We tend to take our bodies for granted until we are injured. Shoulder injuries can make you change the way you accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Shoulder injuries typically affect our ability to raise our elbow above the height of the shoulder or limit the amount of rotation that our shoulder joint is capable of. The most commonly injured muscles of the shoulder are the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff .
Rotator Cuff Strains are Common Shoulder Injuries
Three of the rotator cuff muscles coordinate the rotational movements of the shoulder while the remaining fourth muscle helps with raising arm out to the side of your body. The anatomy of the rotator cuff is arranged such that all of the muscles arise from your scapula (shoulder blade) and insert onto the upper portion of the humerus. The nerves that feed the muscles of the rotator cuff originate from the neck between the 5th and 6th vertebra. Certain types of neck conditions or injuries can affect the muscles of the rotator cuff resulting in either shoulder weakness or pain.
The supraspinatus muscle is the most frequently injured muscle rotator cuff. This is the muscle that aids in raising your arm out to the side. The supraspinatus can be found on the upper portion of the back side of the shoulder blade. When this muscle is injured many patients have to use their good arm to help raise their injured arm off the side of their body for the first 15 or 20 degrees. The tendon of the supraspinatus is also prone to becoming impinged or pinched between the ball of the humerus and the underside of the AC joint.
Both the infraspinatus muscle and the teres minor muscle act to rotate your arm externally. Both of these muscles are found on the back side of the shoulder blade. While these muscles are not frequently seriously injured they are prone to becoming tight and tender as a result of postural stress (computer work).
The final rotator cuff muscle is the subscapularis which is found on the front side of the shoulder blade. This muscle works to internally rotate your arm. The subscapularis is the rotator cuff muscle that is least likely to be injured.
Shoulder injuries that involve a rotator cuff tear or strain don’t always require surgery. Many of these injuries respond to a combination of chiropractic care, at home therapies and avoiding aggravating activities. It is important to seek treatment as soon as you suspect a shoulder injury because shoulder injuries can quickly become chronic and the injured rotator cuff muscle loses strength and size faster than you think.