Lake Oconee Breeze

Pathways to Healing

February 7, 2013

Shoulder pain and rotator cuff injuries

LAKE OCONEE — Rotator cuff injuries are a common cause of shoulder pain. Being that we depend on the shoulder for a variety of sports, as well as everyday activities, these injuries can be particularly frustrating.

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that connect the upper arm bone (humerous) with the shoulder blade, and also helps move and stabilize the shoulder joint. Individually these muscles work to move the arm in more specific movements. The main movements the rotator cuff muscles participate in is elevating and rotating the arm.

There are several different ways the rotator cuff can become irritated or damaged. Some of the more common injuries include:

  • Acute Rotator Cuff Tear- A tear of one of the rotator cuff muscles that results from a traumatic injury such as falling on an outstretched arm, a sudden pulling motion, or a hard pitch or throw. This injury typically involves a sudden tearing, or popping feeling, in the shoulder followed by severe pain. If the tear is severe enough, there may also be limited range of motion.
  • Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear- This type of tear develops over an extended period of time. It will also cause pain and, if severe enough, will limit shoulder movement. This type of a tear will usually develop from something called impingement syndrome.
  • Impingement Syndrome- Impingement Syndrome, also called Swimmer’s or Thrower’s Shoulder, happens when the rotator cuff muscles are pinched between two bones. Many times this occurs after years of participation in activities such as baseball, tennis and golf. If the shoulder’s range of motion is restricted and the bones are not properly aligned to allow enough room for the muscle tendons to freely pass through the bones, then impingement can occur. Pain will usually develop over time and, if left untreated, can eventually lead to a tear in the muscle (Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear).

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