Shoulder Pain and the Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff consists of 4 muscles that allow us to rotate our shoulder. The most commonly torn and injured part of the rotator cuff is the supraspinatus tendon, which sits on top of the other tendons.

The problem with a tear of the rotator cuff is that if there is a complete tear it will never heal. My goal as a sports medicine orthopedic doctor is to correct the problem in the shoulder before my patients require any surgery.

Almost all patients can get back to normal activities with appropriate physical therapy and avoidance of aggravating activities.

How do we prevent shoulder problems to begin with? Typically, when we work out, we stress the large muscles around the shoulder and neglect the smaller muscles.

Well-defined deltoid and pecs look great, but they are only part of the shoulder that needs to be strengthened.

Simple rotation exercises with the elbow at the side are extremely important to preventing rotator cuff injuries.

This should be done with very light weight initially. With any shoulder workouts with weights or machines, it is best to keep the hands in front of the head and not behind the head.

Shoulder presses and latissimus pulldowns should be done in front rather than behind the head.

If you develop shoulder pain or weakness of the shoulder, do not neglect this. If it persists for more than a few days, see a sports medicine specialist at Westchester Sport and Spine.

It is better to identify if there is a tear or just tendonitis early on so as to prevent needing surgery.

Don’t work through the pain because you may be causing significant damage.

It is always better to prevent an injury rather than have to fix it!

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Health Associates and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.