Shoulder Injury – Rotator Cuff

In order to understand a rotator cuff syndrome, it is important to briefly review the anatomy of the shoulder joint. As described in the first of this series, the shoulder is a ball and socket type of joint, that the Lord created in a way that it allows for maximum mobility.

There are four major muscle groups around the shoulder joint, called the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles are commonly called the “rotator cuff muscles” and function together as a unit to depress or lower the shoulder joint in the arm socket so that it could move freely.

When one of these muscles are strained or torn, the shoulder rides a little higher in the socket and often causes pain, limitation of movement and swelling. When this is identified, rehabilitation efforts should be aimed at reducing swelling, increasing range of motion and rotational exercises to condition, coordinate and strengthen the specific muscle(s) in the cuff that have been weakened or torn.

Exercises, however, must be incorporated at the right time. If an inflamed joint is prematurely exercised, it could become more inflamed. Likewise if a person performs the wrong kind of exercises, this could worsen their condition. Many well meaning patients attempt to exercise a sore shoulder and develop a shoulder impingement syndrome. We will be discussing this more next week.


Dr. Jacob G. Caraotta

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