Basket total £ 0.00
  • product added £ 0.00
checkout

Rotator Cuff Injury Explained

A Rotator Cuff injury is a common cause of shoulder pain. Injury to the Rotator Cuff will usually begin as inflammation, often referred to as Rotator Cuff tendonitis. The Rotator Cuff muscles (Subscapularis, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus and Teres minor) are small muscles situated around the shoulder joint. Although they have individual actions, their main role is to work together to stabilise the humeral head (ball) in the shoulder socket.

Anatomy of a rotator cuff injury

People are often told that they have injured one particular Rotator Cuff muscle or tendon, with the most common diagnosis being Supraspinatus tendonitis. However, it is unlikely that the problem is with just one of the muscles in isolation. The world's top shoulder surgeons refer to such conditions as a 'rotator cuff injury' and consider the picture as a whole.

Although the Rotator Cuff can be injured by a single traumatic incident, this is not common. Injury to the Rotator Cuff will usually begin as inflammation (tendonitis) caused by some form of micro trauma (a small but continuous source of irritation). If the cause of the inflammation is not addressed, and continues over a long period of time, partial tears may develop in the cuff that could eventually become complete tears (a tear all the way through one or more of the rotator cuff muscles).

There are three main causes of micro trauma to the rotator cuff:

  1. Primary Impingement
    The 'Coraco-Acromial arch' forms a bridge over the Rotator Cuff. It is made up of bones and ligaments and is lined by a sac of fluid called the Subacromial bursa. The space under the bridge that is available for the Rotator Cuff is called the Subacromial space.
    Many people will have a naturally small Subacromial space, which is just bad luck, but the space can also be reduced by conditions such as Osteoarthritis. Whatever the cause of this small Subacromial space, repetitive overhead activities (such as throwing a basketball or dusting high shelves) can cause the Rotator Cuff to become continuously squashed against the Coraco-Acromial arch, causing inflammation of the cuff.
  2. Secondary Impingement
    Many people will have what is called shoulder instability (a lax shoulder joint). This laxity may have been present since birth or may be due to an injury. Often it will have occurred over time due to repetitive overhead activity, poor posture or inactivity.
    Due to this instability, the Rotator Cuff has to overwork to stabilise the shoulder, causing it to become inflamed. Eventually, the Rotator Cuff will become weak and tired, and will not be able to prevent the humeral head from squashing up against the Coraco-Acromial arch. Because this type of impingement is not due to a small Subacromial space, it is called secondary impingement.
  3. Overstraining
    During forceful throwing actions (e.g. tennis service, pitching and throwing), the Rotator Cuff has to work very hard. With repetitive throwing, the cuff is prone to being overloaded, resulting in inflammation and tissue breakdown.

Rotator Cuff Injury Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff injury include weakness, loss of full movement and shoulder pain. The amount of pain will depend on the extent of the injury. Patients with early-stage inflammation may only have pain with overhead activities, while those with a Rotator Cuff tear may not be able to sleep because of the pain.

Physiotherapists have a number of physical tests designed to diagnose the presence and severity of Rotator Cuff injury. It is also important to look for signs of shoulder instability. X-rays can give clues as to the presence of a rotator cuff injury but an MRI scan is the investigation method of choice to determine whether a tear is present. An ultrasound scan may be just as effective if carried out by an experienced sonographer .

Rotator Cuff Injury Treatment

Tears of the Rotator Cuff are best treated by surgical repair. Physiotherapy is often effective in treating acute (short-term) inflammation and chronic (long-term) degeneration of the cuff where a tear is not present. The first aim of treatment is to reduce the amount of inflammation using ice therapy (never apply ice directly to the skin) and anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a doctor. Anti-Inflammatory Gel may be more appropriate where anti-inflammatory tablets are not well tolerated. For those who want to continue with sports and work activities a neoprene shoulder support can provide support and reassurance.

Ice Packs relieve pain and reduce bleeding in the damaged tissue. The Aircast Cryo/Cuff is the most effective method of providing ice therapy and is the professional's choice for shoulder injuries. It is ideal for home use as it can provide continuous ice cold water and compression for 6 hours. This can significantly reduce shoulder pain and swelling.

A corticosteroid injection (an injection of a naturally occurring substance that can slow down inflammation) that bathes the Rotator Cuff, rather than being injected directly into it, is advocated by some doctors. However, even this may carry a risk of causing further damage and should be used with caution.

Once the inflammation and pain has settled, exercises to regain full movement can begin, followed by a carefully-graded strengthening and stabilising programme. Resistance bands can be very useful for this. Faults in sporting technique that may have caused the problem in the first place must also be rectified.

Operative treatment of chronic inflammation and degeneration of the Rotator Cuff may be necessary if no progress is made with physiotherapy. The use of surgery aims to enlarge the Subacromial space (Subacromial decompression), thus reducing the risk of impingement.

Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention

For athletes, attention must be paid to flexibility, strength and endurance of the shoulder muscles, ensuring that the muscles of the scapula are not neglected. Learning the correct technique and choosing proper equipment are also important. In addition, any increases in the amount of training or competition must be gradual so as not to overload the rotator cuff. Resistance Bands are ideal for shoulder strengthening.

Finally, a proper warm up and cool down may also help to prevent injury.

PhysioRoom.com Sprains & Strains Repair Kit

£12.15 inc VAT

Essential ice and compression kit to relieve pain, reduce swelling and speed up recovery following a sports injury, muscle strain or ligament sprain.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com Sprains & Strains Repair Kit has a rating of 5.0 stars from 2 reviews (2 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Physicool Cooling Bandage (10cm x 2m) - Ideal for wrists, ankles, elbows

£6.59 inc VAT RRP £9.99 Save £3.40

Physicool is an innovative and uniquely designed reusable strapping that combines the healing characteristics of cold therapy with the support qualities of a compression bandage. Differing from the more traditional treatments currently available, Physicool works by drawing heat away from the body to provide an instant long-lasting cooling effect which can be utilised for extended periods.
More Details

Physicool Cooling Bandage (10cm x 2m) - Ideal for wrists, ankles, elbows has a rating of 5.0 stars from 7 reviews (7 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Physicool Cooling Bandage (12cm x 3m) - Ideal for thighs, legs, shoulders, elbows

£8.89 inc VAT RRP £12.99 Save £4.10

Physicool is a new and unique way to instantly apply cold therapy whilst on the move, this portable and reusable compression bandage is applied quickly and easily allowing the healing process to begin immediately. By taking heat away from the body Pysicool have developed a product which differs from move traditional methods meaning it can be used for longer periods.
More Details

Physicool Cooling Bandage (12cm x 3m) - Ideal for thighs, legs, shoulders, elbows has a rating of 5.0 stars from 13 reviews (13 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Ultimate Performance Neoprene Shoulder Support

£38.28 inc VAT

A combination of theraputic heat and support promotes improved healing after shoulder injury and complaints such as arthritis and rotator cuff tendonitis.
More Details

Ultimate Performance Neoprene Shoulder Support has a rating of 4.5 stars from 26 reviews (26 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Mueller Shoulder Support

Save £20.61 (41%)
£29.38 inc VAT


More Details

Selected options in stock

Quantity

medi Omomed Shoulder Brace

£77.19 inc VAT RRP £79.99 Save £2.80


More Details

medi Omomed Shoulder Brace has a rating of 3.0 stars from 1 reviews (1 review)

Delivered in 7-10 days

Quantity

Ultimate Performance Advanced Shoulder Support

£52.68 inc VAT


More Details

Ultimate Performance Advanced Shoulder Support has a rating of 4.5 stars from 5 reviews (5 reviews)

Selected options in stock

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com Resistance Exercise Band

£2.49 inc VAT RRP £4.49 Save £2.00

Latex Bands provide light, medium to heavy resistance during training exercises and are designed for increasing strengthening exercises during rehab and sports training. 99.99% free from latex allergens.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com Resistance Exercise Band has a rating of 5.0 stars from 11 reviews (11 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com Resistance Band Exercise Loop

£1.49 inc VAT RRP £3.00 Save £1.51

These multi-coloured tubes provide four levels of resistance, ideal for progressing strengthening exercises.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com Resistance Band Exercise Loop has a rating of 5.0 stars from 27 reviews (27 reviews)

Selected options in stock

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com Exercise Band Loop (medium) - Pack of 5

£6.99 inc VAT

These red coloured tubes provide medium resistance, ideal for progressing strengthening exercises.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com Exercise Band Loop (medium) - Pack of 5 has a rating of 5.0 stars from 1 reviews (1 review)

In Stock

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com The PhysioRoom Rehab and Fitness Exercise Pack

£43.99 inc VAT

The ultimate rehab and fitness kit, also perfect for yoga and pilates. Everything you will need for exercise or rehab following a sporting injury, for use at home.
More Details

In Stock

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com 5.5m x15cm Resistance Band Box - Choose between 5 Levels

£8.49 inc VAT

Latex Bands provide light, medium to heavy resistance during training exercises and are designed for increasing strengthening exercises during rehab and sports training.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com 5.5m x15cm Resistance Band Box - Choose between 5 Levels has a rating of 5.0 stars from 25 reviews (25 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com 5.5mx15cm Resistance Bands All Strengths 5 Boxes 5 Levels Of Resistance

£37.99 inc VAT

This resistance exercise band pack features five boxes each of which has varying levels of resistance. Each latex band measures 5.5mx15cm and can be cut accordingly to suit your preference. Latex bands provide light, medium to heavy resistance during exercise and are specifically designed to increase strength during rehab and sports training.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com 5.5mx15cm Resistance Bands All Strengths 5 Boxes 5 Levels Of Resistance has a rating of 5.0 stars from 2 reviews (2 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Fitness Mad Studio Pro Adjustable Power Grip

£9.83 inc VAT RRP £9.99 Save £0.16


More Details

Fitness Mad Studio Pro Adjustable Power Grip has a rating of 4.5 stars from 6 reviews (6 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Mentholatum Deep Relief Gel

£6.49 inc VAT RRP £7.99 Save £1.50

Deep Relief dual action gel with ibuprofen is a clear, non-sticky and non-greasy gel with a mild, pleasant menthol fragrance.
More Details

Mentholatum Deep Relief Gel has a rating of 5.0 stars from 2 reviews (2 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Empi Direct TENS

£52.69 inc VAT

The Empi Direct TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) is a compact dual channel handheld device which utilises a range of nerve stimulation programmes to aid in the treatment and management of chronic and acute conditions.
More Details

Empi Direct TENS has a rating of 5.0 stars from 1 reviews (1 review)

In Stock

Quantity

Bauerfeind OmoTrain Shoulder Support

£111.19 inc VAT

Active shoulder support that provides functional treatment and pain relief following shoulder injuries.
More Details

Delivered in 7-10 days

Quantity

PhysioRoom.com Shoulder Support Strap

£13.99 inc VAT

High quality custom fit shoulder strap to aid injuries such as bursitis, myositis and tendonitis.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com Shoulder Support Strap has a rating of 4.5 stars from 67 reviews (67 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity

Aircast Shoulder Cryo Cuff with Cooler

£103.79 inc VAT RRP £157.99 Save £54.20

The ultimate shoulder ice therapy. Provides 6 hours continuous cold and compression to minimise bleeding, swelling and pain.
More Details

Aircast Shoulder Cryo Cuff with Cooler has a rating of 4.5 stars from 4 reviews (4 reviews)

In Stock

Shoulder Cryo/Cuff Quantity

PhysioRoom.com Instant Ice Pack

From £0.69 inc VAT     1+ £2.99 each
    6+ £1.99 each (Save 33%)
  12+ £1.49 each (Save 50%)
  24+ £0.99 each (Save 67%)
  50+ £0.69 each (Save 77%)

A mouldable pack that becomes an instant, single use ice pack, without the need for refrigeration.
More Details

PhysioRoom.com Instant Ice Pack has a rating of 5.0 stars from 21 reviews (21 reviews)

In Stock

Quantity


Shoulder Injuries