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Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator Cuff Injury (Tendinopathy)


What is the ROTATOR CUFF?

The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) is a ball and socket joint made up of the head of the humerus (ball) resting on the the glenoid fossa (socket) of the scapula. The rotator cuff is the name given to a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in the correct position. The rotator cuff consists of 4 separate muscles: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles start from the scapula and attach to the humerus via their respective tendons forming a cuff at the shoulder joint. The tendons provide stability to the shoulder joint and muscles allow the shoulder to rotate.

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Current research is showing rotator cuff tendinopathy results from a combination of factors: extrinsic mechanisms (eg poor scapular and shoulder mechanism, abnormal posture) and intrinsic mechanisms (eg Tendon vascularity biology, morphology), as well as environmental factors (Lewis, 2010).


Rotator cuff tendinopathies are generally seen in populations that tend to be involved in activities that overuse/overload the rotator cuff tendons (e.g. lifting heavy loads above head). Tendons are designed to withstand repetitive loading forces but when the force becomes too much for the tendon to withstand, the added stress results in small micro tears. If not managed appropriately, the repeated repetitive strains placed on the tendons results in a decrease in the tendons capacity to heal and remodel thus resulting in a decrease of the tendon to load force. This results in pain, inflammation and limited movement of the shoulder joint. Symptoms develop gradually over time, pain usually slowly increases with use.

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Common presentations
• Participating in sports that involve repetitive throwing (eg volleyball, basketball, cricket)
• Work involving movements above the shoulder (eg painters)
• Tenderness in the shoulder joint
• Shoulder stiffness with loss of some motion
• Pain/Dull ache in the shoulder
• Pain with reaching overhead or behind the back
• Pain with lifting and sleeping on the affected side
• Pain, an increase in weakness and immobility of the shoulder


As with many overuse injuries, if not treated correctly the conditions can become chronic. If any of the above presentations sound familiar physiotherapy can help decrease your pain and help you return to your activities faster. Even if the above presentations don't match your symptoms exactly you could still have a rotator cuff injury.

Call us today on 8094 8610 if you are interested in finding out the next steps to your recovery.

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