What is the rotator cuff anyway? We hear a lot about it these days, from injured quarterbacks in the news, to your neighbor down the street who tore his falling on the ice. Prior to MRI being widely available, we heard very little about tears of this offending musculo-tendonous group, because there was no good way to image it, and no easy surgery to fix it. Most people did not even know they had a rotator cuff, and many still don’t, if the names I hear it called are any indication. People describe it to me as anything from the “rotator cup” to “rotary cup”, to just plain “rotatory cut.”
So what is the rotator cuff? It’s the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, and make it possible for the shoulder to move in all the amazing directions that it does, otherwise known as flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation and external rotation. Basically north, south, east, west and everything in between. When our rotator cuff is working properly, we don’t notice it at all. But should it become strained, pinched or torn, we’re acutely aware due to pain and/or loss of movement. I recently strained my rotator cuff (it was a combination of Yoga class and weight lifting) and spent a miserable week or so nursing it back to health. I tried all the traditional and nontraditional methods I knew to put it right, because when you can’t lift your arm, can’t sleep and can’t get dressed without help, you’re ready to try just about anything. I did manage to get it better and have sworn off Yoga class for now, but am back to biking, weight lifting and climbing, but trying to be a little more reasonable about it.
In the next few days I’ll explore the pesky rotator cuff a little more, hopefully to help us all understand it better, and know what to do if it’s injured.
Addendum: I just found out my problem is calcific tendonitis of the rotator cuff. So, I’m going to stop treating it myself and get some expert consultation, hopefully nipping it in the bud before any more chronic problems develop. (Don’t want anything to keep me from climbing or biking now do I?)
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