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Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles surrounding your shoulder joint that play an important role in providing stability, strength and mobility to the upper limb. The 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff can be seen in the image below and they work both independently and together to help your shoulder move.

The Roles of the Rotator Cuff:

To understand rotator cuff injuries, you need to first understand the roles of the rotator cuff:

  1. Stabilise the humeral head (top of the arm bone) in the socket of the shoulder

  2. Assist in the movement of the shoulder joint

  3. Control the movement of the scapula (shoulder blade) during movement

  4. Perform rotational movements of the shoulder joint


An injury to the rotator cuff is very common. There are different types of injuries including tears, tendinopathies and impingements. These are all very different pathologies and it is important to determine what has caused the injury. One of the ways our physiotherapists do this is, is by assessing what risk factors might be involved. ​

Risk Factors

  • Recent change in activity/load; recent increase in training/workload or starting a new activity

  • Repetitive activities, especially when under load, reaching away from the body or overhead

  • Sudden acceleration/deceleration; eg. Throwing or shovelling motions

  • Exposure to vibrations; eg. Tools such as hammering or power tools

  • Poor postures

  • Poor shoulder and scapula biomechanics including muscle imbalances and poor technique of certain activities

  • Joint laxity/hypermobility

  • Previous shoulder injuries; a fall or a specific condition (eg. labral tears, subacromial bursitis, dislocation/subluxation)

  • Other factors, such as increasing age or previous history of neck/thoracic problems.

Signs & Symptoms


Due to the shoulder joint being quite complex, there are multiple different symptoms and locations of symptoms that can present with rotator cuff injuries. There may be pain over the top of the shoulder, at the front or back of the shoulder joint, in the upper part of your arm or around your shoulder blade. Due to the complexity of the shoulder, the experienced physiotherapists at 4 Life Physiotherapy will help to diagnose your problem. They will ask a lot of questions to get a complete history and then assess your shoulder including the mobility, stability, strength and function to determine where your symptoms are originating from. It is important that the underlying cause of your rotator cuff injury is determined as well as the contributing factors that led to the injury.


The treatment of a rotator cuff injury is very much individualised and based on the nature of the injury and the underlying causes. After all, no two people are the same and no two shoulder injuries are the same. Treatments may include manual therapy, dry needling and specific exercise rehabilitation, however this will be determined by your physiotherapist once they have completed a thorough assessment and developed an individualised treatment and rehabilitation plan specifically for you and your goals.

Don’t put up with shoulder pain. Contact the experienced team at 4 Life Physiotherapy for comprehensive assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of your shoulder injury.  You can book an appointment here online bookings, or call our reception team on 08 9583 5200 (option 2 for Pinjarra Clinic) who will be happy to help

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