Your Shoulder Joint
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the bones of the shoulder joint, allowing the shoulder to move and keeping it stable.
The tendons of the rotator cuff pass underneath a bony area on their way to attaching to the top of the arm bone. These tendons join together to form a cuff that surrounds the shoulder joint. This helps keep the joint stable and allows the arm bone to move on the shoulder bone.
Injury to these tendons may result in:
- Rotator cuff tendinitis, which is irritation and swelling of these tendons
- A rotator cuff tear, which occurs when one of the tendons is torn due to overuse or injury
These injuries often lead to pain, weakness, and stiffness when you use your shoulder. A key part in your recovery is doing exercises to make the muscles and tendons in your joint stronger and more flexible.
Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to treat your rotator cuff. A physical therapist is trained to help improve your ability to do the activities you want.
Evaluating Your Shoulder
Before treating you, a doctor or therapist will evaluate your body mechanics. The therapist may:
- Watch how your shoulder moves as you perform activities, including your shoulder joint and your shoulder blade
- Observe your spine and posture as you stand or sit
- Check the range of motion of your shoulder joint and spine.
- Test different muscles for weakness or stiffness
- Check to see which movements seem to cause or worsen your pain
After testing and examining you, your doctor or physical therapist will know which muscles are weak or too tight. You will then start a program to stretch your muscles and make them stronger.