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The Rotator Cuff

 

A group of four muscles that attach the scapula (shoulder blade) to the humerus (the arm bone). They are supplied by different nerves.

  1. Supraspinatus - suprascapular nerve
  2. Infraspinatus - suprascapular nerve
  3. Subscapularis - upper and lower subscapular nerves
  4. Teres Minor - axillary nerve

The deltoid (axillary nerve) and teres major (lower subscapular nerve) are the other two muscles that connect the scapula to the humerus.

The rotator cuff is literally a cuff of muscles around the shoulder joint that stabilise the much larger humeral head in the shallow glenoid. The provide the control required for the more powerful deltoid to work to move the shoulder.

The tendons of these muscles can get affected causing impingement and tears

The treatment involves physical therapy for postural modifications and control of movement pattern issues. Strengthening of these muscles may also be necessary with specific exercises.

Surgery is reserved for tendon problems that do not respond to non surgical techniques. This can be a very effective way of helping patients with rotator cuff tears.

Modern surgical techniques use arthroscopic surgery that allows rapid recovery. The torn tendons are fixed to bone using Suture anchors.

Review of rotator cuff problems with more detail