Suffering a rotator cuff injury is very common in those who play sports that involve a lot of shoulder rotation. Particularly susceptible are cricketers, baseball players, swimmers, tennis players, weight lifters and kayakers.
A rotator cuff injury occurs when there is damage to the group of muscles that work together to provide the shoulder joint with control during rotation (hence the name), and dynamic stability. The main muscles involved are:
- Teres Minor
Most rotator cuff injuries occur in the supraspinatus muscle, and can result either from a single traumatic event or from overuse of the muscles and tendons over a period of years.
Symptoms of this problem include:
- Pain when lifting your arm
- Pain when lowering your arm from a fully raised position
- Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
- Crepitus (a crackling sound) when moving the shoulder in certain positions
In most cases, nonsurgical treatment will reduce pain and improve the function of the shoulder. Options include:
- Rest (often involving use of a sling)
- Limited overhead activity
- NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) such as ibuprofen
- Regular painkillers (analgesics)
- Ice packs and heat treatments - these can reduce pain and increase blood flow to the area.
- Steroid injections into the joint
- Strengthening exercise and physical therapy