Rotator Cuff Pain

The Rotator Cuff is a group of muscles that help control how the shoulder moves. This means that these muscles help control the shoulder position during movement of the arm. This provides stability for the shoulder joint.

Rotator Cuff Pain and Anatomy
Rotator Cuff Anatomy and Rotator Cuff Pain

Often the muscles of the rotator cuff become imbalanced around the shoulder, with some becoming tight and others becoming weak. This creates an asymmetrical pull on the tendons, leading to gradual wear and tear, injury from overuse, and potential rupturing of tendons over time. The result is rotator cuff pain and dysfunction.

Athletes such as baseball players, cricketers and swimmers, who rotate the arm a lot, are also prone to this condition. Injury may occur during sudden forceful movement, and the person may get a tearing feeling in the shoulder followed by pain down the arm. Abduction (moving the arm out to the side) will be difficult, and surgery may be required in some cases.

Assessment & Treatment

We will perform a thorough assessment to determine the type and extent of your injury, and to design a treatment plan.

You will need to learn how to balance the muscles around the shoulder to keep it moving with better mechanics. Often, exercises will be given at home to help you balance out your strength in the rotator cuff, as well as work on posture of the neck, upper back and shoulder, to help improve your mechanics.

As well, Ice, heat and local ultrasound treatment may be used to control pain and lessen swelling. Wearing a sling in more serious situations may help to stabilize the shoulder and allow the rotator cuff to heal, or it may be used post-operatively. Manual therapy can be used to help restore movement in the joints and muscles, or intramuscular stimulation may be used to help loosen tight muscles.

You may be taught pendulum and other range of motion exercises to improve movement, strengthen the shoulder, and start some activation of the rotator cuff. Functional activities, such as activities of daily living, often form a major part of therapy at home and in the clinic.  This, coupled with movement retraining for activities we wish to return to, helps us to return you to more functional strength!

Learn More about Treatment for Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Pain

Watch our video on Rotator Cuff Injury and Activation here, then check out our Physiotherapy Treatment Videos and our Informational Videos about shoulder pain.