Shoulder Pain and the Rotator Cuff

How’s your shoulder feeling?

Are you experiencing pain when attempting to reach or lift?

Do you get shoulder pain when…

  • Reaching overhead?
  • Sleeping on your side?
  • Lifting the grocery bags onto the kitchen bench?

By far the most common shoulder problem that we see in the clinic is related to the Rotator Cuff muscles.

So you’ve probably heard of the Rotator Cuff or at least – as some of our patients like to call it, the “Rotor Cuff” 😉 But what is it exactly?

The Rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles:

  • Supraspinatus (most commonly injured)
  • Infraspinatus
  • Subscapularis
  • Teres Minor

These four muscles work against the forces of the bigger “mover” muscles to stabilise the “ball” (head of the humerus) in the centre of the socket. For example when you lift a weight over your head, the rotator cuff muscles pull the humerus down helping to avoid excessive upward translation of the shoulder joint.

If your rotator cuff muscles are weak or not switching on at the right time, this can lead to “impingement syndrome”.

Impingement syndrome is a condition where various soft tissue structures such as “bursa” (fluid filled sacs that help tendons move), and/or rotator cuff tendons get intermittently trapped and irritated during shoulder elevation movements.

This condition can be very painful and persisting shoulder impingement can possibly lead to other shoulder conditions such as rotator cuff tendon tears.

Who is likely to get shoulder impingement?

Shoulder Impingement can be common for people that have occupations that require a lot of overhead lifting or work above shoulder height. It is also common for people who engage in sports that require repeated overhead movements such as tennis, swimming or throwing a ball.

On the other end of the spectrum, people who are sedentary or have desk jobs are also susceptible to shoulder impingement. This is due to their tendency to sit with rounded shoulders and also the development of rotator cuff weakness.

Okay, so what can I do about my shoulder pain…?

A graduated rotator cuff loading program guided by a Physiotherapist is the most effective way to manage shoulder pain. Recent studies have even shown that adequate shoulder exercise programs are just as effective as surgery!

When you see us at inline physio. Samford, we will assess you to determine the cause and severity of your shoulder pain and develop a personal treatment plan for you.

The treatment for these types of shoulder conditions typically consists of correcting any imbalances (such as stiffness, weakness or tightness) around the shoulder.

This may include

  • Specific hands-on techniques to improve the mechanics of the shoulder joints, improve mobility of the spine and relieve your pain
  • Strapping of your shoulder in the acute phase for pain relief and to aid in correcting your shoulder mechanics
  • personalised, progressive exercise program to target your specific issues found during your physical assessment

So if you or someone you care about are experiencing shoulder pain, come and talk to us and find out what we can do for you today.

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