What is Rotator Cuff (SIITS MM)?

Rotator Cuff Sprain and Strain Injuries + Rotator Cuff Tear

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, with a shallow socket to allow for maximal range of motion. However, this shallow socket makes the shoulder prone to injuries. The rotator cuff is the name given to the four muscles – subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor – and their tendons that surround the shoulder joint and act as the joint’s primary stabilizers. As the name suggests, the rotator cuff muscles are responsible for lifting and rotating the shoulder.

The rotator cuff is also closely linked with the ligaments that attach the humeral head (ball) to the glenoid fossa (socket) and as such sprain and strain injuries of the shoulder are not only common but can often be related to one another. A sprain refers to an injury of a ligament while a strain refers to an injury of a muscle. Sprains and strains typically occur following a forceful or rapid twisting, bending or straightening movement which causes overstretching and possible tearing of the ligament or muscle fibres.

A rotator cuff tear is typically caused by overstretching or a rapid twisting of the joint either suddenly or as a result of repetitive microtrauma (typically seen in overarm sports such as swimming and cricket) resulting in tearing of the muscle fibres. Rotator cuff tears range from mild to severe and typically present as shoulder pain, either sudden or gradually progressing depending on the mode of injury, as well as inflammation, pain that radiates down the arm, pain with lying on the side of the body and/or a sharp pain associated with certain movements.

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