Rotator Cuff

Harris & Ross regularly see patients who present with rotator cuff injuries.  With our help, the symptoms of rotator cuff can be alleviated- we can also refer where required to our recommended shoulder specialists if a surgical solution is required. Find out more about the condition and how we treat it here-

What is it?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that attach from the shoulder blade (scapula) to the ball of the shoulder (humeral head). They work together to stabilise the ball in the socket to allow the shoulder to move effectively.

The rotator cuff tendons sit under the tip of the shoulder blade called the Acromion. They are prone to compression under the acromion as the arm is moved overhead. The supraspinatus is the most common of the four cuff tendons to be injured.

What causes them to get injured?

  • Trauma. Rotator cuff injuries can occur following trauma to the shoulder, for example a completely ruptured tendon following landing onto an outstretched arm
  • Overuse. Repetitive strain of the tendon can lead to tendinopathy (a thickening and deconditioning of the tendon) or even lead to a degenerative tear
  • Sports such as tennis or baseball that involve repetitive overhead arm motion will put the cuff at increased risk of injury
  • Jobs involving repetitive arm motion such as painters and decorators, will also be at increased risk
  • Age. As we age tendons will degenerate in quality and be more susceptible to injury

Common symptoms:

  • Dull aching pain with overhead activities and lifting things
  • Pain at night
  • Pain lying on the shoulder
  • Referred pain down the upper arm
  • Associated arm weakness
  • Possible significant loss of movement – you may be unable to rotate or elevate the arm as you were previously


Treatment will depend on the extent of the injury. An acute injury with significant loss of motion may indicate a complete tear in the rotator cuff, which will require surgical repair. The majority of other rotator cuff injuries will be managed through physiotherapy first off. Physiotherapy can help rotator cuff injuries in a number of ways, including:

  • Exercises to Re-condition the rotator cuff and scapula muscles
  • Massage to help relieve muscle tension around the shoulder
  • Advice and education re. the problem, prognosis and management
  • Guidance regards returning to sport or other activities
  • Taping
  • Thorough assessment of the kinetic chain, identifying any other areas of the body which may be contributing to your shoulder pain
  • Diagnosis and onward referral for a scan or to a consultant where appropriate

Our team at Harris and Ross have excellent links with specialist shoulder consultants and following your initial assessment will discuss and help you decide the most suitable treatment and management plan for you. This may be with physiotherapy and/or it may be exploring other treatment options available through a consultant depending on the nature of your shoulder injury.

Following an initial assessment we will discuss the issue that caused your rotator cuff injury and help you decide the most suitable treatment and management plan for you.

To make an appointment for an initial physio assessment at our Manchester, Wilmslow, Altrincham & Wigan clinics, and discuss a treatment plan call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 or click the book now icon below.