Rotator Cuff Muscles

rotator cuff muscles

The shoulder area of the human body is supported and stabilized by a group of muscles that are called the rotator cuff. There are four muscles in this group: teres minor muscles; infraspinatus; subscapularis and supraspinatus. These four muscles work together with the coracobrachialis, the teres major and the deltoid and enable proper shoulder movement which is quite important for normal functioning and many daily activities. The cases of injuries of this group of muscles are common and can happen from swimming, throwing a baseball, chopping wood or other activities that require shoulder activity. Read this article to find out more.

Rotator cuff muscles can be affected of arthritis or other conditions that provoke wearing on the tendons. As we grow older, the risks of these injuries become higher. Activities that require repetitive movement of the shoulder cause breaking of the tendons fibers. If you feel pain during such an activity, that is a sign that you should stop before you come to the point of breakage. The supraspinatus is the most commonly affected muscle with shoulder activities. The excessive use of the muscle tendon causes problems with trauma to the muscles of the rotator cuff. The repetitive action of swimming, throwing or similar can cause such trauma. If the tendons are slightly damaged with every-day activities, they recover without surgery, but a major tear needs to be treated with a surgical procedure.


The first and most common symptom of injury of the rotator cuff muscles is a constant pain in the shoulder that is stronger when you reach overhead. Recurrent pain at night that doesn’t let you sleep is also one of the initial symptoms. You may experience weakness in the shoulder when you try to lift your arm. Sounds of clicking or popping may also be present when you move the shoulder. The motion of the shoulder is limited and disabled by severe pain. These symptoms require medical attention and examination in order to see whether you have damaged the muscles of the rotator cuff or not. The diagnosing process requires medical imaging such as an X-ray, because the doctor will need to see if the bones in the shoulder area have bone spurs or fractures. The doctor may also order an arthogram, ultrasound, MRI scan or arthroscopy.


The treatment for an injury to the rotator cuff depends on the severeness of the case. The first option of treatment is usually non surgical and the doctor will recommend rest, ice coatings on the affected area, creams that are applied topically and relieve the pain, and maybe injections of corticosteroids in some cases. If this treatment helps to put the inflammation and pain under control, the patient will be sent to physical therapy that is very helpful for bringing back the mobility and motion of the area. However, some cases need surgery, and usually the first choice of surgical procedure is an arthroscopic surgery that can repair the disorder without causing any damage. The last option of treatment is an open surgery of the shoulder and it is done if nothing else can help. The recovery after surgery requires two to six months, depending on the case.