Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are positioned around the shoulder joint. The muscles are named:
  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Subscapularis
  • Teres minor
The rotator cuff muscles work as a unit. They help to stabilise the shoulder joint and also help with shoulder joint movement. The four tendons of the rotator cuff muscles join together to form one larger tendon, called the rotator cuff tendon. This tendon attaches to the head of the humerus (the bony surface at the top of the upper arm bone). There is a space underneath the acromion of the scapula, called the subacromial space. The rotator cuff tendon passes through here.
There are a number of different problems that can affect the rotator cuff and lead to rotator cuff injury or inflammation. The most common problems include:
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff impingement syndrome
  • Rotator cuff tear

Who gets rotator cuff tendonitis?

Rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain.

What causes rotator cuff tendonitis?

Rotator cuff tendonitis is caused by irritation and inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. It tends to have an acute (sudden) onset. There is often a specific preceding injury. It can happen because of recent overuse of the shoulder. For example, it can occur in athletes, particularly those who participate in throwing sports. In non-athletes, there may be a history of recent heavy lifting or activities involving repetitive movements of the shoulder.

Sometimes the rotator cuff tendons can become calcified. This is when calcium is deposited in the tendons, due to long-standing inflammation. This is called calcific tendonitis.

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis?

The main symptoms are an acute (sudden) onset of pain and painful movement of the shoulder. Pain is worst when you use your arm for activities above your shoulder level. This means that the pain can affect your ability to lift your arm up - for example, to comb your hair or dress yourself. Swimming, basketball and painting can be painful.Also "postural stress" such as driving with your hand on top of the steering wheel and working on a computer for extended periods of time can cause pain.

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