Injuries Unpacked #6: Rotator Cuff Tear

What is the rotator cuff?

Many people have heard of the rotator cuff in the shoulder but not many people actually know what it is. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that help stabilise the shoulder during arm movements. The rotator cuff muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor and are seen in the picture below.


How does a rotator cuff tear occur?

Rotator cuff tears can occur for multiple reasons. It could be caused from an accident or trauma to your shoulder or arm, or from a recurrent irritation to the tendons. It is very common in overhead athletes or older individuals. A tear can range from mild to severe and is usually dependent on how it happened.

Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear

Some of the symptoms associated with a rotator cuff tear include pain when lifting your arm out to the side or to the front, difficulty putting your arm behind your back and feeling weak in the shoulder and arm. You may also notice you’re unable to grip with that hand as easily as before.

How will a physio diagnose a rotator cuff tear?

A physio will assess how your shoulder and arm is moving as well as look at how strong the muscles around your shoulder are. There are several special tests a physio can also perform which will help diagnose your injury.

How will my shoulder be treated?

Treatment will involve looking at the biomechanics of your shoulder to find out why the impingement is occurring.

Sound like something you’re experiencing? We can help! Give the clinic a call and we can help get you moving pain free.