What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is actually a group of muscles that are very important in the stabilisation of the shoulder. As the shoulder is working against gravity, the importance in these muscles cannot be stressed enough.
Four muscles make up the rotator cuff, that in turn helps to stabilise the shoulder and allow for its large range of movement. The Supraspinatus, the Infraspinatus, the Teres Minor and the Subscapularis.
These muscles attach to the shoulder blade and to the top of the arm (Humerus). If these muscles were not in place and working as they do, then the head of the Humerus would not be able to stay in the correct posotion as the arm moves. This is due to the fact that the ‘socket’ (glenoid fossa) in this ‘ball and socket’ joint is very shallow. A dislocation is when the head of the humerus displaces on the glenoid fossa and is often accompanied by numerous injuries to the muscles and ligaments around including those of the rotator cuff.
Rotator cuff injury
Due to the flexibility of the shoulder, it allows for greater risk to injury. What needs to happen is that all muscles work together to support the shoulder, and this is what the rotator cuff does. If there is altered function in these muscles, then this can lead to significant restriction and pain, and I see this regularly in my chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne.
Injury to the cuff can happen in a multitude of ways, but I find most commonly it is repetitive strain and/or trauma. By repetitive strain this doesn’t just mean doing an action over and over again, it can also be putting a specific muscle under a consistent overstretch by adopting poor postures.
This is why these problems can sometimes seem like they come out of the blue. Trauma can be by a fall directly onto the shoulder or onto the elbow or hand.
I have seen many of these injuries in my time in practice and, some respond very quickly and others more slowly, and it is very difficult to tell which is which.
This all depends on the extent of the injury; at first it can be very hard to determine what is actually going on, because of the restricted range of movement and inflammation. As rotator cuff injuries often involve rotator cuff tendons it tends to take three to six months for a full recovery.
Treatment with chiropractic
The good thing about injuries to the rotator cuff is that most improve with the care that we can provide. Our aim is to reduce inflammation, to make the pain less, to increase range of movement and to increase strength.
Most people complaining of a shoulder issue will have weakness within their rotator cuff, and therefore exercises are essential in recovery.
Our first aim is always to understand what has happened and what structures are involved. This is why whenever someone comes in to see us at our chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne with an injury, we always do a full consultation, taking a full history and performing orthopaedic, neurological and chiropractic tests to assess and identify the issue.
If necessary, we can also perform x-rays in our onsite x-ray suite.
Chiropractic treatment for rotator cuff injuries tends to consist of massage around the shoulder, as well as improving the function of the neck, upper back, and shoulder blade. This is accompanied by advice of the use of ice, and advice on specific things to avoid or lifestyle changes.
For more information for managing your shoulder pain follow this link to a previous blog that I have written. As I said before exercises are very important and different exercises are introduced at different stages of recovery.
For a look at what to expect from treatment read a patient’s case study with rotator-cuff treatment here.
For more information on the rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries please look at our other blogs on this site.
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, then please check out one of our other blogs on the shoulder joint below.
Yours in health,
James Revell, your Eastbourne chiropractor
By James Revell
Call now 01323 722499