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All you need to know about rotator cuff pain

Before we delve into what exactly rotator cuff pain is, let's understand exactly what's going on at the rotator cuff itself. A thick, tendinous structure made up of four individual muscles that all contribute to the movement and stability of the shoulder joint. Helping you reach that high shelf, putting on a shirt, throwing a ball or doing a push-up, your rotator cuff will be there to support and stabilise that shoulder joint.

Here you can see clearly the four muscles that make up the cuff. During arm movements, the four muscles contract, preventing the sliding of the head of the humerus. This allows for full range of motion and stability throughout the movement.

When it comes to rotator cuff pain, you'll most likely experience pain at or around the shoulder joint since those muscles all attach on to the humerus. More often than not, your pain will be originating from one or more of those four.

Rotator cuff pain can be a result of a number of things; age, sporting history, trauma, injury history, changes in load, changes in intensity etc. The more common being volume/intensity changes or age. Volume and intensity changes could be ramping up the weights at the gym too fast or doing too much in your given sport where the shoulder is used a lot. Age on the other hand can be complex, as the older you get the less resilient tissue can be, resulting in degenerative changes happening in the tendon.

Typically, rotator cuff pain will present quite diffuse early on, with it being hard to pinpoint exactly where the pain is coming from. You could be experiencing some neck pain or some thoracic pain as well, as your body begins to compensate.

Thorough testing and questioning will help us determine the location and type of injury you may have sustained to the rotator cuff. Which will then determine the rehab plan we put you on.

Rotator cuff pain can be quite irritable so it's important to come and get it checked out if you believe there is cause for concern. Make sure to look after your shoulders too, regular exercise or resistance work can do wonders for tissue and give you a long-lasting rotator cuff.

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