Shoulder Pain and Rotator Cuff Injuries
The most commonly involved painful area of the shoulder is the rotator cuff. The cuff is a group of four tendons that attach to the humerus or upper arm bone near the ball and socket. The rotator cuff stabilizes the shoulder during overhead movements and throwing motions. A common problem occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become pinched in the shoulder (impingement). This produces pain and can lead to fraying and eventually a tear in the rotator cuff. Poor posture, tight muscles (especially the pectorals), and weakness in the rotator cuff and other shoulder blade muscles can lead to impingement of the cuff and eventually a tear.
Prevention of rotator cuff injuries can be accomplished by evaluation of the shoulder by a Physical Therapist to address these issues specific to an individual’s needs. Every patient is different and requires a slightly different intervention. In the worst case surgery will be needed to repair a badly torn rotator cuff tendon. Physical therapy following surgery typically takes three months or more. It initially requires gentle restoration of ROM and eventually moves to active motion and then strengthening.