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rotator cuff


Perhaps you slipped off of your ladder and reached to catch yourself or you were playing catch with one of your children. Perhaps you are a competitive athlete and you threw a pass, feeling pain in your shoulder or you were lifting a heavy box over your head. Whatever it was that you were doing, you now have significant shoulder pain will not improve and it is time to seek medical attention.


The shoulder is comprised of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula) and the collar bone (clavicle). These bones make up what is called a ball and socket joint. The shoulder remains stable by tendons (rotator cuff) and ligaments.


What is the rotator cuff?


The rotator cuff is four muscles/tendons that are grouped together to “cuff” the shoulder. These muscles/tendons include:

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres Minor
  • Subscapularis


This group of tendons is important in overhead motions such as throwing sports, swimming and overhead lifting. If one or more of these areas become inflamed or torn, pain most likely will occur.


In the next several upcoming posts, we will be discussing the rotator cuff further including rotator cuff tendonitis, rotator cuff tears and surgical and non-surgical options.


go to Part 2: Rotator Cuff Tendonitis


Author: Amy M Roberts, MS, ATC/L

Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic