What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a part of the shoulder that is necessary for stability and movement. It allows for lifting and rotation of the arm.  According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the rotator cuff sent approximately 2 million people to the doctor in 2008.[i]

Rotator CuffAnatomy

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of bones, muscles and tendons. The rotator cuff keeps the arm in the shoulder socket and is comprised of 4 muscles and tendons.

The three bones of the shoulder:

  1. Humerus (upper arm bone)
  2. Scapula (shoulder blade)
  3. Clavicle (collarbone)

The 4 muscles of the rotator cuff are:

  1. Teres Minor
  2. Infraspinatus
  3. Supraspinatus
  4. Subscapularis

The muscles of the rotator cuff attach to the scapula. Each muscle also has a tendon that attaches to the humerus. The tendons form a cuff around the shoulder joint, which provides stability for the shoulder joint and allows movement. Another important part of the shoulder is the bursa. The bursa is a sac that lies between the acromion (the upper bone in the shoulder) and the rotator cuff. The bursa allows the tendons to move easily.

Common injuries of the rotator cuff are tendonitis, bursitis and tears. Causes of injury include age, overuse or acute injury (fall on outstretched hand). Many conditions/injuries of the shoulder can be treated non-surgically, but more serious tears are typically treated with arthroscopic surgery.

In upcoming posts, we will discuss these injuries and conditions in more detail. If you feel that you have injured your rotator cuff, it is important to consult a physician. Advocare Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, the office of John Vitolo, MD is available to treat any orthopedic issues.

[i] http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

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