Shoulder – Rotator Cuff Tear
The rotator cuff is a group of four small muscles that work as a team to hold the top of the arm in the socket and stabilise the shoulder. The socket is quite small so think of it like a golf ball on the tee. As our arm moves in different positions, the rotator cuff function is critical to keeping normal shoulder movement and function. Damage to one of these tendons can cause the rotator cuff group to lose function and the shoulder to lose movement and become stiff and/or painful.
If torn tendons are not correctly managed the shoulder can become more dysfunctional and over time can completely rupture. EMG studies have shown that even if the rotator cuff is strong, there can be problems with synchronisation of the muscles forming the cuff. In this case, the muscles are switching on and off at the wrong time and causing dysfunction and pain. Shoulder posture is often an underlying cause of the damage to the tendon.
Physiotherapy is very effective in decreasing muscle tension and restoring normal function though gentle manual therapy and simple specific exercises.
Surgery and injections should be considered as a last resort, as the results can be quite variable.