The rotator cuff is the official term used to describe a muscle group made up of four that work together as individual tendons so that they can make up a cuff around your humerus — which is the upper arm bone that you likely remember from middle school biology. The names of the four muscles in the rotator cuff are teres minor, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus respectively. They all originate from your scapula which is more colloquially known as the shoulder blade.
The tendons of the muscles in the rotator cuff attach to the humerus in spots that are known as the lesser and greater tuberosities. The rotator cuff is important as it helps you both rotate and lift your arm. It is also responsible for keeping the ball of your shoulder stable within its joint. There are many ways to damage this muscle group. The most common causes are overuse and acute injuries such as falls.
1. See your doctor
As with any injury, the first thing that you need to do is see your doctor so that you can gauge the full extent of the damage as well as which areas need the most treatment. Even if you don’t think that you’ve injured yourself but notice chronic pain in your arm or shoulder, you should consult with your physician immediately so that you can get any damage diagnosed and get a jumpstart on your treatment.
Your doctor could use either an ultrasound or MRI scan to see which areas are damaged as well as how badly damaged they are. It’s important to get yourself diagnosed as early as possible to make the treatment more effective. Prolonged injuries that aren’t diagnosed often lead to loss of motion as well as general weakness and fatigue of the muscle group. Bear in mind that you’re free to get a second opinion if you are skeptical of the initial evaluation.