Three things you didn’t know about the Rotator Cuff
I am sure that at some point in your life you, or someone you know has been told that they have a rotator cuff injury. A question I get asked a lot in practice here in Eastbourne, is ‘What is the rotator cuff?’.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles. These are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. Along with their tendons the primary function is to keep the head of the arm bone (humerus) inside the relatively shallow shoulder joint.
The rotator cuff therefore plays a critical roll in shoulder movement and stabilisation. This means that rotator cuff injuries can be some of the most debilitating shoulder injuries.
As chiropractors, rotator cuff injury and strains fall within the scope of injuries that we are able to treat. We are equipped with the ability, skills and experience to correctly manage shoulder pain.
For a more comprehensive list of conditions that chiropractors are able to treat, check out our home page.
Even if you are well acquainted with the rotator cuff and some of the effects of an injury to this group of muscles, here are some interesting facts that you might not have known:
Rotator cuff injury is the most common problem to affect the shoulder
Injuries to this area can range from a mild strain of one of the four tendons that make up the rotator cuff, to a full rupture of multiple tendons. The rotator cuff (RC) is implicated as the cause of shoulder pain in approximately 70% of patients according to a UK study.
Rotator cuff damage is so prevalent. In fact, that one in three people over the age of 30 and two in three people over the age of 70 with have abnormal findings on scans of the rotator cuff.
As I have progressed in my career as a chiropractor, I have personally found that rotator cuff injuries are almost as prevalent in my own practice as lower back pain.
Rotator cuff injuries are not always caused by trauma
This might seem silly but it is a common misconception that rotator cuff injuries only occur following some kind of trauma to the shoulder joint. Or, in sportspeople that use their arms primarily while doing their sport, such as golfers, cricket players, tennis players and so on.
Although trauma and extreme over training do account for a lot of rotator cuff issues, especially in a town like Eastbourne with such an active population, the most common cause of rotator cuff injuries is general overuse, or simply degeneration over time.
This means that these types of injuries respond extremely well to conservative care, such as chiropractic, along with a carefully regimented exercise program designed to aid healing and promote stability throughout the joint.
Often, these types of injuries are mistaken for ‘trapped’ or ‘pinched’ nerves in the neck. This is because a very common symptom of rotator cuff injury is pain or pins and needles down the affected arm and into the hand.
This puts us as chiropractors in a prime position to differentiate the cause of these symptoms and treat the condition accordingly whether the cause is the trapped nerve in the neck or an injury to the rotator cuff.
Not all muscles of the rotator cuff cause rotation of the shoulder
Contrary to what the name ‘rotator cuff’ suggests, only three of the four rotator cuff muscles actually cause rotation of the shoulder. While the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles cause an external or outward rotation of the shoulder, the subscapularis muscle causes an internal or inward rotation of the shoulder.
The supraspinatus aids in lifting the arm up to the side and keeping the head of the arm bone in the shallow shoulder joint. Perhaps not the juiciest fact about the rotator cuff, but a great example of how human anatomy is a confusing and wonderful thing!
If you think you might have a rotator cuff problem and would like to chat to a chiropractor in Eastbourne or would simply like to learn more about Chiropractic, check out the Lushington Chiropractic website.
Want to find out more about Shoulder pain and the rotator cuff?
If you’ve enjoyed this blog and want to find out more about shoulder pain and the rotator cuff, then please check out one of our other blogs on the shoulder joint below.
By James Revell
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