Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator Cuff Injury

 What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is the collective name for 4 muscles and their tendons that support the ball of the shoulder joint in the socket of the shoulder blade. The four muscles are:

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres Minor
  • Subscapularis


The shoulder joint (or glenohumeral joint) is a mobile joint that has a very shallow socket. It has been described as the equivalent of a golf ball on a tee. The function of the rotator cuff is to act as dynamic stabilisers to prevent excessive shoulder joint movement. They also help maintain optimum position of the shoulder to allow the strong power driving muscles to function.

Rotator Cuff injury

Rotator cuff injuries can occur as a result of repetitive overhead activities such as painting, building or lifting. Some occupations are susceptible to this type of injury such as builders, cleaners and general labourers. This leads to degenerative change within the rotator cuff tendons known as tendinopathy. Sometimes, rotator cuff tears may also occur as a result of a single injury such as a fall onto a shoulder, or grabbing onto something to prevent a fall. This type of injury can lead to either a partial or complete rotator cuff tear. Extensive rotator cuff tears may require surgical repair. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age.

Good function of the shoulder also depends on the coordinated movement of the arm in conjunction with the shoulder blade. Subtle changes in this movement pattern can contribute to overloading of the rotator cuff and injury.

How do we treat rotator cuff injuries?

Many people recover from rotator cuff disease with physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. At Roslyn Physio we regard shoulder problems as an interesting challenge and believe we are very good at resolving shoulder pain. We will first help you by diagnosing the problem, and will then provide a prognosis so you have clear time frame for probable recovery.

We will then treat utilising hands on physiotherapy, including joint mobilisation and exercise therapy to resolve any stiffness, weakness or movement pattern problems that may be causing your pain. Should you require further investigations such as an x-ray or an ultrasound scan to ascertain the severity of your injury, we are able to refer you for these. 

Rotator cuff exercises

Open this file to see commonly prescribed exercises for rotator cuff injuries. These exercises are not designed to replace an assessment and treatment plan from your physiotherapist, and should any of these exercises increase your pain you should stop these immediately and seek help from a physiotherapist.

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Contact

    Roslyn Physio 287 Highgate Roslyn, Dunedin 9010
  • P: 03 477 1744
  • F: 03 471 8598
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