WHAT IS IT? ROTATOR CUFF TEAR
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. There are 4 muscles which make up the rotator cuff group of the shoulder (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis).
Overloading the complex can result in a strain or tear of one of the rotator cuff muscles. Tears may be partial or complete. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens with use of the arm away from the body.
Signs & Symptoms
Weakness Inability to lift the arm out in front or out to the side
Tenderness on palpation of the rotator cuff muscle
What Causes It?
Trauma (heavy lift/pull/push, fall)
Repetitive wear and tear
Overhead sports (throwing, swimming, racquet sports)
How to Self Manage
Avoid aggravating activities (overhead activities, sleeping on affected side)
Seek an assessment and diagnosis, as surgery may be required
Ultrasound or MRI are the optimal investigations for a suspected rotator cuff tear.
Surgical repair may be warranted for severe tears.
Factors such as age, type of work, degree of sporting involvement, and degree of success with conservative management are all likely to be taken into consideration prior to surgical intervention.
How Physio Helps
Assessment of the rotator cuff muscles for weakness
Biomechanical review of shoulder and scapular function and stability
Prescribe an individualised program to improve stability and strength
Soft tissue massage and trigger point release
Acupuncture and dry needling
Referral for ultrasound or MRI to confirm diagnosis
Referral to an orthopaedic specialist for advice on management