The Shoulder’s Support Mechanism
The name “rotator cuff” makes most people imagine a single object that holds the shoulder in place. In reality the rotator cuff is made up of multiple tendons and muscles that work together to hold the ball on the upper arm in the socket created by the collarbone and shoulder blade. This combination of tendons, muscle, and bone gives the shoulder the greatest range of motion in any joint of the human body. This incredible range of motion can leave the joint, and its complex anatomy, open to injury.
The Where and How of Torn Rotator Cuffs
A tear in the rotator cuff is not usually a torn muscle, but a torn tendon. There are two ways tears can happen, either a sudden traumatic injury or through repetitive motion. Typically a traumatic rotator cuff injury occurs following a fall or after lifting a very heavy object. The more common repetitive motion type rotator cuff tears often occur in athletes who need to use their shoulders as part of their chosen sport. Football quarterbacks, swimmers, tennis players and baseball pitchers are all commonly seen for rotator cuff tears.