Understanding the Rotator Cuff - What It Is and Why It's Important

Health Articles

Feb 15, 2024

Rotator Cuff 101 - get to know the four muscles that help life and rotate your arms

If you've ever had shoulder pain or an injury, chances are your doctor mentioned something about your "rotator cuff." But what exactly is this important shoulder structure? In my latest video series, I explain everything you need to know about the rotator cuff - what it's made up of, how it functions, why problems occur, and the treatment options available. This first video is all about the anatomy of the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and muscles that completely surround the ball and socket of the shoulder joint. The key role of these four tendons - the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis - is to center and stabilize the humeral head (upper arm bone) in the shallow shoulder socket.

I often use the analogy of a golf ball sitting precariously on a tee. Without the rotator cuff tendons and muscles holding everything in place, shoulder movement would be difficult and unstable. The cuff provides essential fine-tuning and stabilization so the major shoulder power muscles can lift and rotate the arm.

In the video, I use excellent 3D anatomy diagrams to examine each of the four rotator cuff components closely. Getting familiar with the anatomy is key to understanding how rotator cuff injuries occur. Two common problems are tendinitis (inflammation) and strains/tears from overuse or trauma.

Symptoms of an injured rotator cuff can include shoulder pain (especially at night), catching or clicking with movement, weakness, and decreased range of motion. Treatment ranges from rest and physical therapy to medications, injections, and even surgery like rotator cuff repair.
Want to learn more about protecting this important shoulder structure? Watch my latest video, where I explain everything you need to know about your rotator cuff. And as always, check out the Tidewater Orthopaedics website for more videos and resources.

If you or someone you know suffers from joint pain, we can help. Make an appointment by calling 757-827-2480 or clicking  Book Appointment Now .

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