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Dealing with a rotator cuff injury

Updated on October 16, 2009

What is this pain in my shoulder?

Do you feel a sharp, painfulness whenever you move your arm beyond a certain point or when your rest on it? You might be suffering from a rotator cuff injury. While there are surgical procedures to alleviate the pain, there are also several exercises and preventative measures to do before considering costly surgery.

What is the rotator cuff?

First of, what is the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a sleeve formed around the shoulder holding the head of the humerus (the bone of the upper arm) to the glenoid fossa (the grove where the humerus rests on your shoulder). This sleeve is formed by the tendons of the four muscles of the shoulder: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapuraris.

What are some rotator cuff injuries?

Problems with the rotator cuff arise from inflammation of the tendons or the bursae, or tears in the tendon. The pain involved comes from the pinching of nerves against the bones of the shoulder by the inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis) or the bursae (bursitis) on the nerves. Symptoms include: pain/discomfort in the shoulder, especially when pressure and weight are applied, pain when arm is lifted away from the body or overhead.

How can I prevent rotator cuff injuries?

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure. The same applies to rotator cuff injuries. Often times rotator injuries come about from quick and drastic movements with the shoulder. Before you do any strenuous activity, warm-up your shoulder to keep it supple and flexible. Also, don't overextend yourself, if there something you're unable to do yourself, ask for assistance, or try something else. I know it's a common sense suggestion, but many believe they're still young guns and try to pull of activities they know they probably shouldn't.


Tips and exercises on rotator cuffs

Here some suggestions and exercise you can do to help your condition if you are having issues.

  • When exercising or playing sports, avoid activities that place your elbows behind your shoulders.
  • Take anti-inflammatory and pain relief medicine, such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. These are all available over-the-counter
  • If you have just begun to experience pain, have some R.I.C.E: Rest the joint, put some Ice, Compress the area, and keep it Elevated.
  • Strengthen your rotator cuff with targeted exercises and stretches. Lateral dumb-bell raises, seated rowing, shoulder adduction are all exercises that strengthen the muscles of the region. Just don't over do it.


You should, in any case see a doctor if the problems is persisting. If the problem continues to persist for 6-12 months, surgery might be needed.

Have you ever had problems with your rotator cuff?

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