What is it?

The rotator cuff is a collective term given to four muscles that operate around the shoulder joint. These four muscles include; supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinutus, and teres minor. They play a pivotal role in maintaining the stability of the shoulder joint by keeping the head of the arm bone in the centre of the socket during active movement

Why did I get it?

A rotator cuff tear can either be caused by a traumatic event, or from repeated microtrauma subsquently overloading the muscles.

How is it diagnosed?

A thorough clinical examination by a physiotherapist will most commonly diagnose the condition due to the clinical findings. Occasionally diagnostic imaging may be used to determine the site and extent of the pathology.

Treatment options

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Behaviour modification
  • Addressing joint biomechanics
  • Manual therapy from a physiotherapist
  • Improving flexibility
  • Steroid injections (in severe cases or if pain persists)

Recommendations

Early stages

  • Activity modification – avoid aggravating activities
  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Active and passive range of motion exercises
  • Shoulder blade stability exercises
  • Gentle isometric muscle activation

Later stages

  • Progressive strengthening exercises targeting the rotator cuff and scapular stabilisers
  • Addressing muscle restrictions
  • Addressing thoracic spine mobility restrictions
  • Proprioception exercises
  • Sport-specific training

Exercises

  • Isometrics
  • Tx mobs
  • Pec minor self TPR
  • PROM exercises in severe cases
  • Serratus wall push up
  • Shoulder W exercise
  • External rotation