We see a lot of patients with rotator cuff injuries. Many of these injuries are chronic in nature and often prevent people from living a normal active life.

The rotator cuff consists of muscles designed to basically hold the shoulder joint together. They are Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, Teres major and the Subscapularis (SITS). The SITS muscles are small muscles that are present on your scapulae (“angel wing”). A healthy rotator cuff allows us to play golf, bowl, throw a ball, swim, play tennis, sleep comfortably and even comb your hair. An injured rotator cuff compromises all the muscles in the shoulder region.

The rotator cuff helps to pull the humorus (arm bone) down into the joint when the arm is raised to the side. This prevents the arm bone from banging into the scapulae. It also works in decelerating the shoulder joint when throwing a ball and swinging a club. This is often when many injuries occur. The Pectoralis and Latissimus muscles are much larger than the SITS muscles and to overcome the acceleration the larger muscles create results in injury of the SITS muscles.

Another way that the shoulder is injured is during weight lifting. Many weight lifters have or have had a shoulder injury. Many popular lifting techniques actually cause damage to the rotator cuff. One exercise that should be eliminated is the upright rows. Upright rows accelerate rotator cuff degeneration. This is due to the fact that the exercise causes the tendons of the SITS muscles to bang into the acromion process. Usually pain starts often hours after the exercise. This makes it difficult to determine what caused the injury. Bench pressing with a straight bar also causes the shoulder to slip into a bad position due to the little work required of the SITS muscle to hold the joint together. It is better to use dumb-bells which force the rotator cuff muscle to hold the shoulder together. Dumbell pullovers should also be avoided. This places great stress on the shoulder joint and also puts the shoulder in a position in which it be easily dislocated.

There are many injuries that can occur to the rotator cuff including: tears, tendonitis triggerpoints, and impingement to name a few. With most injuries there is often bruising or bleeding in the injured areas. This will set in scar tissue and if not treated correctly can result in frozen shoulder.

When the rotator cuff is injured, pain is most often felt over the deltoid muscle. Often there will be a referral type pain down the arm and to the hand. To help support and prevent further injury many people start to put their hand in their pocket. This starts to set up adhesions between the muscles, nerves, tendons and fascia. Think of them as tiny little hairs that prevent the muscle from sliding on each other. One way to help the scar tissue lay down in such a way that it creates as little adhesions as possible is to passively stretch the shoulder (this when you use the other arm to move the injured shoulder in its normal range of motion). This allows the scar tissue to lay down in the direction of the muscle. Thus, allowing the muscle to keep a somewhat normal range of motion.
So what do you do if you hurt your shoulder? First, do not keep trying to work through the pain. Second, get some professional help so that you can rehab the shoulder as quick as possible. Third use ice not heat and only for 15 minutes at a time and no more.

If you would like to avoid surgery and finally get some sleep from this nagging shoulder. The call and make an appointment we will try to get you in today or tomorrow so you can get some relief.

We hope you stay healthy and fly through life without a broken wing.

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