What are the Rotator Cuff muscles?
The Rotator Cuff muscles control rotation of the shoulder. They consist of the infraspinatus teres minor and supraspinatus which rotate the shoulder outwards and the subscapularis which is one of the muscles which rotate the shoulder inwards. These muscles are put under a great deal of strain especially in throwing events and racket sports where your arm is above your head a lot. A sudden sharp pain in the shoulder would indicate a possible rupture of a tendon, while a gradual onset is more likely to be inflammation.
Symptoms also include:
- Pain on overhead activity such as throwing or racket sports
- Pain when you bend the arm and rotate it outwards against resistance.
- Pain on the outside of the shoulder possibly radiating down into the arm.
- Pain in the shoulder which is worse at night.
- Stiffness in the shoulder joint.
What can the athlete do?
- Rest and ice the shoulder for 2 to 4 days depending on how bad the injury is.
- If the acute stage is over, pain and inflammation have settled down apply heat.
- See a sports injury professional who can advise on treatment and rehabilitation.
What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?
- Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication.
- Apply ultrasound or laser treatment.
- Prescribe a rehabilitation program.
- Use sports massage and stretching techniques.
- Give a steroid injection.
- Operate if needed.
It is easier to prevent this injury from occurring in the first place. Careful attention should be applied to strengthening the rotator cuff muscles by doing outward rotation exercises with elastic or light weights.