The rotator cuff (not “rotary cup”) in your shoulder is made up of a group of tendons and muscles. These tendons and muscles help connect the shoulder blade to the upper arm. (Photo Credit: WebMd)
The tendons and muscles all begin on the shoulder blade and attach at the top of the humerus. They help provide stability and motion to the shoulder.
When a rotator cuff muscle or tendon is injured, often it is for one of the following reasons:
- Tearing: A tear in the rotator cuff happens when the muscles have become weak from activity or age. Most of the time, it’s a slow process caused by repetitive lifting or overhead activity. It can also occur with one injury to the shoulder (such as a fall or dropping heavy weight and catching it with the arm). Occasionally bone spurs may grow irritating or tearing the tendons. Symptoms include pain shooting down the arm and weakness.
- Tendinitis: When tendinitis occurs, it’s typically because of overuse of the shoulder. Repetitive activities in sports such as baseball, tennis, or skiing, can result in this injury. It can also happen because of repetitive motions that are a result of working at a desk all day with poor posture – the tiny motions needed for typing and moving the mouse can add up over time.
- Frozen shoulder: In this injury, the ligaments in the shoulder become very tight and scarred down, causing the range of motion to become limited. Doctors don’t know why this happens, but according to the Mayo Clinic, “it’s more likely to occur in people who have diabetes or those who recently had to immobilize their shoulder for a long period, such as after surgery, fracture, or other injury.” Symptoms might also include weakness and tightness in the shoulder blade area.
All three of these injuries are common and are treated with physical therapy, ice, and rest. Upon initial consultation for an injury, our therapists will help discover the behaviors that are causing the pain. With proper training and education, most of our patients are able to work through the injury, recover, and prevent it from happening again. Our therapists will work through a series of exercise and other treatments to help regain pain-free movement and strength.
If you have lingering pain in your shoulder, you don’t have to suffer anymore. Give us a call to schedule your consultation.