“Doc, I think I’ve hurt my rotary cup” is a statement I hear from patients many times per week.
Whether it be by virtue of an injury, repetitive tasks, or without any clear reason at all, the rotator cuff can cause a lot of pain. Before dissing the rotator cuff, let me explain what it is and what it does: comprised of the tendons of four separate muscles, the rotator cuff functions (in addition to other muscles) to move the shoulder up, down, to the side and behind the back.
Rotator cuff injuries occur on a spectrum, ranging from tendinitis (inflammation) to tendinosis (chronic) to rotator cuff tears (acute). Predisposing factors for rotator cuff tendinitis/osis are repetitive overhead activities (work or sports related), anatomical variants, abnormal scapular motion (dyskinesis), older age, elevated BMI or cholesterol, as well as diabetes.
Treatment options largely depend on the degree of the rotator cuff injury, but the general approach is to start with a trial of rest, ice, activity modification, and an anti-inflammatory in conjunction with exercises for range of motion and strengthening. Subsequent treatment options include corticosteroid injections. In cases of rotator cuff tears, surgical repair is often indicated.
Below are some exercises which may help people with rotator cuff pain: