The rotator cuff is one of the most commonly injured muscle groups in the body. The glenohumeral joint or shoulder, as we know it, is the most unstable joint in the body. It is unstable because of the anatomic design and the amount of different types of movements it can perform.
There are 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff and I refer to them as,
The 4 Horsemen:
All shoulder injuries are not just the rotator cuff. There are several injuries to the shoulder that I won’ discuss here to save time and stay focussed. Here is a very short list of others.
AC joint degenerative changes
The most common types of injuries to the rotator cuff are a strain/tear or tendinosis to one or more of the 4 Horsemen.
Most of us do not need a traumatic event to cause these types of injuries and repetitive daily activities are the most common causes.
How to tell if you have a rotator cuff injury:
Pain lifting your arm away from your body, overhead or behind your back
Shoulder pain in the front of your shoulder and into your neck
Shoulder pain in the back of your shoulder and into your arm.
This is in no way a comprehensive list, but is a short and sweet guideline.
What to do if you think you have a rotator cuff injury?
If you have shoulder pain that doesn’t go away on its own within a week or pain after a specific event that doesn’t clear up after a few days...early diagnosis and treatment is the key.
A sports chiropractor is the most knowledgeable in musculoskeletal injuries and can refer for diagnostics when necessary. The longer you wait to get treatment the more sensitive you become to the pain and the increase likelihood of other conditions coexisting with the tear or tendinosis ie: bursitis
Initial management of a shoulder injury: People always ask me should I ice or heat? The scientific jury is currently out on whether you should ice or not. I typically use ice within the first 48hrs and then tell the patient to choose which feels better and doesn’t flare up their pain after use.
How to prevent an injury:
Take rest when training for an athletic event and initially feeling pain in the shoulder. If overusing a muscle or tendon, rest will help.
Proper pre-season training is essential for everyone. It prevents injuries because over the course of the training the tissues adapt to the new demands placed on them.
Proper dynamic warm-up before use. Make sure you use the tissues before you play. This goes for cleaning your yard, gardening or working in the garage. Do something similar to what you are about to do that is lighter and easier in nature for 10-20 min.
As we age, our tissues are degenerating. This means we need more of the above 3.