What is a Rotator Cuff and How does it Work?

What is a rotator cuff? Shoulder injuries are some of the most common injuries among athletes and workers who tend to do a lot of arm movement in their jobs. Many times these injuries includes damage to the rotator cuff. When this happens, it can make it difficult to perform the job or duties that you may need to. The rotator cuff is four muscles that come together to form a cuff over the top of your upper arm bone. These muscles connect to your shoulder blade and allow you to lift and rotate the arm. They also help to stabilize the connection of the arm to the shoulder.

When the shoulder isn’t acting the way that it should, it can often be due to normal wear over time or tears in the tendons. Typically, those with injuries will feel pain in the front of the shoulder that will radiate toward the elbow. Many have issues with lifting or reaching in this situation as well as issues with pain while sleeping and weakness in the arm. This often causes problems with routine actions like reaching behind your back, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, or any other similar activities.

If you have pain when doing these activities and keep using it, you could be doing more damage. In most cases if you rest the shoulder, you may have less pain, and it could correct itself, but other times it may need specialty care. Like with any pain that relates to joints, muscles, and tendons, you may need to see an orthopedic surgeon. They will work with you to come up with the best plan to get you pain free. In order to best know how to help you, they will do a medical history, a physical examination, and tests to determine the extent of the damage. From there, they will decide with you whether physical therapy, rehabilitation, or surgery may be right for you.

This article is brought to you by Dr. Brandon Downs, of Orthopaedic Specialists, specializing in knee, hip and shoulder pain. Find Dr.Downs in Nashville, Dickson and Ashland City and online at Orthopaedicspecialists.com.


1912 Charlotte Ave, Nashville 37203, (615) 590-8000
415 Henslee Drive, Dickson 37055, (615) 375-8287
313 North Main Street, Ashland City 37015, (615) 590-8000

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