Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is a term used to describe a group of 4 muscles that help your arm bone to stay attached to your shoulder blade bone. Those muscles known as;

  • supraspinatus
  • infraspinatus
  • subscapularis
  • teres minor

Any of the four muscles may be injured or subjected to wear and tear changes over a number of years. When we examine a shoulder with an MRI or ultrasound scan, one of these 4 muscles in particular, the supraspinatus most commonly reveals signs of injury or wear and tear. When you hear about someone having “rotator cuff surgery”, very often they are having the supraspinatus tendon repaired.

Injuries to the rotator cuff fall into two broad categories- those associated with trauma or obvious inciting event, or those which have an insidious onset of symptoms and can’t easily be traced back to a specific precipitating event.

Traumatic onset of symptoms: If you’ve been doing some googling and suspect you have a rotator cuff injury, and you’re able to link the onset of symptoms to a specific event such as a fall, or a heavy lift or some sort of accident, it’s important to have your shoulder assessed to determine how best to manage your rehabilitation. Some shoulders return to symptom free, full function with no specific treatment as such. While at the other end of the spectrum, some injuries are severe enough that a full return to symptom free functionality requires a surgical repair and / or an extensive Physiotherapy program.

Insidious onset of symptoms: If you suspect you have a rotator cuff problem but cannot trace your symptoms back to a specific trauma or physical event, an assessment of your shoulder by us can help reveal what it is that is driving your symptoms. It’s possible that you have some wear and tear in one or more of your rotator cuff tendons, and that this has altered how your shoulder moves, leading to irritation of joint structures and nerve endings such that symptoms such as pain, pinching, aching or clicking emerge. It is also possible that your rotator cuff is just fine and that there are other reasons for your shoulder symptoms.

The type and severity of your symptoms is reasonable indicator of what might be going on with your shoulder… A shoulder for example, that clicks and grinds, and pinches when you put your arm overhead, likely has a different cause than a shoulder that is achy in behind the shoulder blade and is associated with tingling down the arm.

The simplest way to clarify things is to give us a call on 9665 9667. We can have a chat about your symptoms and decide what to do next. It might be that you’re doing just fine on your own. Perhaps you will need to come in for a clinical assessment in our rooms. Or perhaps there will be a need to refer you directly for a consultation with a surgeon.