Our name may be Ascend HAND Therapy, but we treat any conditions affecting the upper extremity from the shoulder to the hand. In that vein, many people suffer from shoulder conditions. A very common shoulder injury is a rotator cuff injury. So, what is the rotator cuff? Well, for starters, it is not a rotary cup, as many people like to call it. The rotator cuff is made up of four specific muscles that help move and stabilize the shoulder during movement. For the anatomy nerds out there (like me), the rotator cuff is made up of the following specific muscles: the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor, and the subscapularis.
These four muscles perform a few different motions. For one, they rotate the shoulder internally and externally. That is, if your elbow is at your side, they move your hand into your belly and away from it. They also help to depress the head of the humerus during shoulder flexion to allow more fluid motion of the shoulder girdle. The supraspinatus (which is a commonly injury muscle) performs a motion called abduction. Abduction is bringing your arm out to the side like doing a jumping jack.
A common injury to the shoulder is called impingement syndrome. This condition occurs when the rotator cuff is not functioning properly, and the cuff gets impinged between part of the scapula/shoulder blade called the acromion and the humeral head. Another injury to the rotator cuff is simply a tear. Depending upon which of the four muscles is the torn, clinical presentations will differ. Patients who have rotator cuff tears typically have difficulty sleeping on that shoulder at nighttime. One last shoulder condition is known as frozen shoulder (a.k.a., adhesive capsulitis). Frozen shoulder has a higher rate of incidence for people aged 40-60 years of age and affects women more than men. This condition consists of the soft tissue in your shoulder becoming thicker and tighter and scar tissue develops. As a result, there is less space for your shoulder to move, which causes your range of motion to decrease.
Fortunately, therapy can help improve many shoulder injuries without need for surgery! Common treatment for shoulder conditions involves balancing the strength and range of motion of the shoulder musculature. According to Ascend Hand Therapy’s COO, David Myers, OTR, CHT, MOT: “The shoulder is sort of like a golf ball on a golf tee. There is a lot of movement allowed, but there is not a lot of bony stability. So, your muscles need to be in proper balance to keep the golf ball on the golf tee and prevent injury.” Educating patients on a proper home exercise program is a major portion of our treatment intervention in order to have a more successful outcome. So, if you have shoulder pain that is not going away, it may be time to get that shoulder checked out. If you need therapy or have questions about your shoulder, we are here to help! Give us a call today at 469.664.0026