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  • Catherine Wasik

HERBAL MEDICINE AND OSTEOPATHIC NEWSLETTER

Updated: Apr 5, 2023



THE SHOULDER AND ITS ROTATOR CUFF MUSCLES

The shoulder has several joint surfaces to allow the great range of movement possible. In comparison to other joints the shoulder is relatively loose packed which, although it allows our incredibe range of movement, can also predispose us to increased possibility of injury.

One of the common injuries involves the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscles are a group of 4 muscles that interact and create movement and stability to the glenohumeral joint. All of the muscle wrap from the back of the shoulder from different orientations and insert two at the back and two at the front of the humerous, the long bone at the top of our arm.





The 4 rotator cuff muscles


How do rotator cuff injuries occur?

Injuries that involve the rotator cuff can commonly be from any slip, trip, bump or fall either onto the shoulder or the use the arm and shoulder to restrain a fall. This can cause a tear, strain or impingement injury to the tendons or muscles and depending on the nature of the fall, deeper damage into the joint can occur. Alternatively, injury can be a result of shoulder surgery or a degenerative pattern, in the latter of which calcified crystals can form in the body of the muscle or tendons. Unfortunately, regardless of how an injury occurs the risk of damage to these muscles increases with age.


Anybody is prone to rotator cuff injuries and the risk increases with age and heavy activity through the shoulders from work or sporting activities


HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE A ROTATOR CUFF INJURY?

Due to the range of possible injuries in the shoulder it is probably best to see either an osteopath or physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis, however it is very likely that there is a rotator cuff injury if you feel pain on the side and front of the upper arm and shoulder. Other symptoms include pain and weakness which makes it uncomfortable or impossible to do everyday activities, such as combing your hair, tucking in your shirt or reaching above your head and nighttime sleep patterns may also be disturbed. Specific testing, by an osteopath or physio, gains a better insight into the shoulder problems, however there are times when further tests, such as an MRI scan, are necessary.


EXERCISES FOR ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES

In this section I want to cover some gentle rehabilitation exercises useful in rotator cuff injuries. It is always important to ensure you are not doing more harm than good and hence, it is always useful to ensure your shoulder pain has been diagnosed properly.

The three exercises are internal and external rotation of the shoulder as seen in pictures 1 and 2 and thirdly the pendulum exercise which is useful for very painful shoulders and may be the first stage of exercise.

Figure 1 internal and external rotation with resistance, figure 2 internal and external rotation with weight and figure 3 The pendulum

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP REDUCE LOCAL PAIN AND INFLAMMATION

Have you ever heard of the ‘hot and cold routine’? This routine creates vascular distension and contraction aiding in pumping out inflammatory substances from the region to which it is applied.

To aid resolution of inflammation of an inflamed joint you can apply an alternating hot and cold compress.


What you need:

-A cold pack or a bag of cold peas, wrapped in a tea towel as direct contact may cause a freeze burn

-A hot water bottle/heat pack wrapped in a towel

Application:

1. Start with the cold compress, apply for 2 minutes

2. Then apply the hot compress for 2 minutes

3. The cold again for 2 minutes

4. Then the hot for 2 minutes

5. Finish with cold for 2 minutes

Rest for 10 minutes and start the routine again. The routine can be used on a repeated basis until the joint pain and inflammation eases.

This is a useful routine, however there are situations when other routines may be more effective.




Contact Details : for more information and advice

Catherine Wasik BSc Hons Ost; BSc Hons MNIMH

At George Morris Physiotherapy Clinics in Hindley, Ashton and Leigh Direct line: 07828261152 email: catherine.w12@hotmail.com


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