white background vector illustration of rotator cuff anatomy

Rotator Cuff- What can an Osteopath do?

You may have heard about your rotator cuff muscles or read about them in our previous blog on the shoulders – This blog is designed to give you additional information about what the common injuries and complaints to these muscles are and how Osteopaths may be able to assist you with your management of these conditions!


The Basics: What is the Rotator Cuff?


  • A group of four muscles that surround your shoulder joint – also known as SITS. The muscles are:
  1. Supraspinatus
  2. Infraspinatus
  3. Teres Minor
  4. Sub-Scapularis
  • They all originate from the shoulder blade (Scapula) and connect to your arm bone (Humerus)
  • They form a strong cuff around the shoulder joint.
  • They assist in adding extra support and help the ligaments stabilise the shoulder joint, which is quite mobile and has a big range of motion


How do they get injured?


Injuries to the Rotator Cuff can be divided into two categories:

  • Acute Injuries
  • Chronic/Postural/Repetitive load Injuries

Acute Injuries

Usually acute injuries involve a specific mechanism of action e.g. tackle in football, a bump in rugby, throwing a cricket ball or going for that screamer of a catch. Acute injuries may include:

  • AC joint sprain
  • GH dislocation/subluxation
  • Acute muscle strains/tears

Management of these injuries varies depending on the severity of the injury, some may require a further opinion from a specialist. The initial management is these types of injuries are RICER and ensuring that you are getting it properly assessed and diagnosed. Osteopathy may be able assist in decreasing muscle tension, swelling, addressing postural compensations as a result from these injuries.


Chronic Injuries

Gradual onset over time from repetitive loading, poor postural awareness and increase sudden loading. You may experience pain in a vague distribution around the outside/on top of the shoulder with discomfort or pain experienced when lifting the arm above 90 degrees. Other aggravating factors may including doing your bra strap up, brushing your hair, putting a t-shirt on/off and sleeping on the affected side.

Common chronic shoulder injuries include:

  • Rotator cuff tear/tendinopathy
  • Sub-acromial impingement
  • Labral tear
  • Bursitis

Management of these injuries will again vary on the individual. Management will range from addressing any ergonomics, postural awareness, technique variations and strengthening exercises and stretches.

Pain in the shoulder??


Due to how mobile shoulders are they are often slow at healing. So if you are experiencing stiffness, muscle tension or pain through your shoulders or would like to know more on how we may be able to assist you, contact the clinic today to make an appointment or book online with one of our friendly and experienced Osteopaths or Myotherapists for an assessment.

Call (03) 9570 3388