How Do I Resolve Rotator Cuff Pain?

What is the rotator cuff? How does it function? How does the rotator cuff stabilize the shoulder joint? How do I resolve rotator cuff pain? We answer your questions on the shoulder function and how the rotator cuff functions and gets injured.

Hi, this is Dana Ranahan from Body Works Sports Physiotherapy in North Vancouver and today I want to talk a little bit about rotator cuff pain so I actually have a model here of the shoulder joint and this is the shoulder blade so we’ll get a sense of it.

This is your collarbone or your clavicle and this is the humerus bone or the front upper arm bone and effectively gives you a bit of a picture of what the joint looks like. So one of the things that we run into is trouble with the rotator cuff and people want to know well what is the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that come from the shoulder blade so there’s a muscle from here, a muscle from the top and a muscle from the underneath side, they kind of come around and form like a cuff around the upper humerus bone or the ball and the socket effectively and it helps to control this movement.

As you can see the bony joint is not really much of a ball and socket, the socket is rather shallow so the role of the rotator cuff is important to control that. Sometimes we get into trouble with the rotator cuff and most commonly what we see is that the position of the shoulder blade becomes affected which puts the shoulder into trouble so if you go home and look at yourself in the mirror and you see one shoulders a little bit dropped which is very common for us with the dominant side if you’re right handed you’re carrying bags on your shoulder, you’re working with a mouse, you’re driving a stick shift, the shoulder can become dropped; if the shoulder is dropped what often will happen is that the shoulder blade kind of tips down and now the hook of that socket is not so effective at holding the shoulder there.

So when we drop the shoulder a little bit now, the shoulder has much more ability to sort of slide around and maybe move too much or create trouble and when we get that tipping forward it also creates some narrowing of the space here at the front of the shoulder so effectively when we get rotator cuff pain, if the one rotator cuff muscles comes through here, the supraspinatus and the shoulders dip down it tends to pinch on that tendon so this is a very common presentation.

So one thing I want you to work on at home is take a look at yourself in the mirror, if you have any shoulder pain check for your shoulder heights and be sure they are level, if not one of the simple things you can work on is just trying to lift that shoulder and keep them more level across shoulder to shoulder and you can use a mirror to help you with that, that will give you at least a bit of a better position for your shoulder blade and give you a better chance of stabilizing the shoulder.

For more help or for more information come in and maybe we can help you to turn exactly what you need to do for your shoulder so check us out on our website for basic information at or give us a call and we can do an assessment and determine what other exercises you need to do to improve your strength and your rotator cuff.