Advertisement

Why are rotator cuff muscle problems common?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
The rotator cuff muscles run from the shoulder blade (scapula) to the arm bone. Some of the rotator cuff muscles help rotate the arm bone outward (external rotation). They must counterbalance the muscles that turn the arm bone inward (internal rotation). These include other rotator cuff muscles as well as the chest and latissimus muscles that come from the trunk. The problem is that the muscles turning the humerus inward are much bigger than those turning the arm bone outward, and they are also more prone to tightness. This is because most of our activities involve internally rotating our arms to work in front of us. For instance, when you're reading a book, your arms are slightly internally rotated in order to hold the book at your midline. The same goes for working on a computer or just about any task. The rotator cuff muscles' other job is to guide the head of the humerus in the shoulder socket so it doesn't slide forward too much and so that it pivots well. Think about this for a second. These muscles must do all of these things while the scapula is elevating, rotating, abducting, and posteriorly tilting. Now you can get an idea of why the shoulder has so many problems and why it's difficult to fix these problems.
Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

More About this Book

Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

The shoulders are a floating system on the trunk, held in place and moved by muscular control. The foundation of shoulder movement is the shoulder blade which has precise resting and moving...

Continue Learning about Rotator Cuff

What is a rotator cuff injury?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
A rotator cuff injury is one of the most common shoulder injuries, and while it often strikes athlet...
More Answers
How long does it take to heal after rotator cuff surgery?
Regional Medical Center Bayonet PointRegional Medical Center Bayonet Point
Initial recovery for a rotator cuff repair takes 12 weeks, with two levels of physical therapy.
More Answers
What is the rotator cuff?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
The rotator cuff is actually a group of multiple muscles that primarily work together to stabilize t...
More Answers
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?
Dr. Kristofer J. Jones, MDDr. Kristofer J. Jones, MD
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include: Pain localized to the shoulder that may occasionally r...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.