The shoulder complex is a ball and socket joint and is comprised of muscles, bones and several soft tissue structures. The main movers of the shoulder joint are the 4 muscles of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff consists of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. The rotator cuff works together to provide additional stability and movement of the shoulder complex including shoulder elevation, internal and external rotation.
Rotator cuff tears often occur more frequently in the adult population over the age of 50. Injuries to this structure can occur from an acute traumatic event, such as fall, or they can occur over time called degeneration. Degenerative tears occur from anatomical variants such as bone spurs, decreased blood supply to the rotator cuff as we age although, some rotator cuff exercises have been shown to decrease the chance of injury over time. Historically, many injuries related to the rotator cuff occur from both external factors (trauma) and internal factors (anatomical).
Symptoms can vary but most will have pain and rest and particularly at night. Decreased range of motion due to weakness vs stiffness. Popping, grinding and pain lifting. Visual atrophy or thinning of the muscles about the shoulder may appear. Some can even feel a tear or pop in the shoulder when injury occurs.