What is Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

Let’s understand the anatomy: the muscles, the bones, and the subacromial bursa (lubricating sack).

The Rotator Cuff Muscles

The Shoulder is a relatively unstable ball and socket joint controlled by the Rotator Cuff muscles

subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor are the small rotator cuff muscles that control and stabilize shoulder movement on the shoulder blade (scapula).

These muscles hold your arm onto your shoulder blade – or rather your humerus onto your scapula. Most of the rotator cuff tendons lie under the palpable bony point of your shoulder (acromion), which protects them from knocks and bumps.

Bones, Shoulder Joint


In between the rotator cuff tendons and the bony arch is the subacromial bursa that protects the tendons from touching the bone and provides a smooth surface for the tendons to glide over.

impingementShoulder impingement syndrome: the rotator cuff tendons are occasionally trapped and compressed during normal shoulder movements, ultimately causing injury and inflammation of the tendons and bursa resulting in painful movement of the shoulder.


  • Pain in shoulder with shoulder height or overhead movements
  • Pain reaching for seat belt
  • Pain felt from top of shoulder to elbow
  • Pain when lying on sore shoulder
  • Weakness in overhead movements
  • Pain when putting hand behind back

A Physiotherapist can help to relieve pain and pressure at the joint with hands on techniques and strengthening exercises, as well as by re-educating the movement rhythms of the shoulder joint.