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Rotator cuff – most of us have heard of them, but how many of us know what they are?

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that stabilize and move the shoulder. The four muscles that make up the group are the supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor, and infraspinatus.

Tears to the rotator cuff can be extremely painful, restricting and debilitating depending on the case.

Tears are categorized into 3 groups:

  • Grade one tear (mild): muscle or tendon has been stretched/ pulled and less than 10% of the fibers have been affected.

  • Grade two (partial tear): between 10 and 90% of the fibers in the muscle or tendon have been torn.

  • Grade three (severe/ complete rupture/full thickness tear): more than 90% of the fibers have been torn

The most common tear is to the supraspinatus muscle (shown in the picture above). Tears can come about from trauma to the area or overuse/ progressive degeneration to the muscle or tendon.

Symptoms generally include

  • Pain at rest/ night time

  • Pain with lifting or lowering arm/ moving shoulder

  • Weakness when lifting/ moving arm

  • Restricted range of motion through the shoulder

  • Aching in the shoulder

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