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by Stacy Choquette, PTA

If that is your shoulder in the picture above, you definitely have a problem with your rotator cuff.  This shoulder is horribly dislocated.  Most of the time, rotator cuff problems are not visible on x-ray.

There are 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff in your shoulder.  The Suprispinatous, infraspinatous, teres minor and subscapularis all work together as a team to keep healthy function and movement in the shoulder.  When one of these muscles is compromised due to injury or strength and or flexibility imbalance it can create difficulty during everyday life.

One of the main functions of the rotator cuff (RTC), like its name, is to rotate the shoulder within the joint.  There are two main muscles in the RTC that externally rotate your shoulder while there are five total muscles that internally rotate your shoulder including some muscles outside of the RTC.  If your not keeping your muscles strong and balanced you can see how it would be easy to injure one.  The rotator cuff is frequently overlooked by gym goers as they are not well defined visually and tend to be on the smaller side.  You don’t realize how often you use your rotator cuff to move and go about your daily activities until there is an injury.  If you weight lift or train at any level rotator cuff strengthening should be included in your routine to prevent these injuries.

The suprispinatous, infraspinatous and teres minor are easily treated areas because of their accessibility being on the outside of our bones.  The subscapularis however can be a main factor in dysfunction of the shoulder but is often forgotten about because it lies on the back side of your shoulder blade between your blade and ribs.  These muscles are all equally important in the function of your shoulder and should all be treated and evaluated during physical therapy.

Stacy Choquette is a Physical Therapy Assistant at Boston Sports Medicine