Rotator cuff muscle

Description – Rotator cuff muscle

The Rotator Cuff is a common name for the group of 4 distinct muscles and their tendons, which provide strength and stability during a motion to the shoulder complex. These muscles are supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor.

Rotator cuff muscle also called as SITS as per first letter of muscle name



supraspinatussuprascapular nerve
Infraspinatussuprascapular nerve
subscapularissubscapular nerve
Teres minoraxillary nerve


The main function of the rotator cuff is to stabilize and center the humeral head in the joint socket, the glenoid cavity. In addition, the muscles tighten the joint capsule preventing a pinch during shoulder movements.

Certainly the rotator cuff – as the name suggests – plays a major role in the internal and external rotation of the upper arm in the shoulder joint. All the muscles mentioned above fulfill different functions.

The subscapularis muscle is a powerful internal rotator which also supports the arm during abduction and adduction. Conversely, the teres minor muscle’s function consists primarily of external rotation and adduction of the arm.

The supraspinatus muscle initiates the abduction of the arm. Finally, the infraspinatus muscle is a strong external rotator and additionally assists in both abduction and adduction.

Common injury

a more common injury to rotator muscles are:

  • Rotator Cuff Tears (micro or macro tearing of the muscles or tendons);
  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (acute inflammation of the RC soft tissue);
  • Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy (chronic irritation or degeneration of the RC soft tissue);
  • Impingement syndrome 

common symptoms

  • pain
  • muscle weakness
  • restricted range of motion
  • functional impairment


Rotator cuff disease may be the result of either a substantial injury to the shoulder or to progressive degeneration or wear and tear of the tendon tissue. Repetitive overhead activity or heavy lifting over a prolonged period of time may irritate or damage the tendon.

Risk factors

The following factors may increase your risk of having a rotator cuff injury:

  • Age
  • Certain sports
  • Construction jobs
  • Family history


  • history
  • physical examination
  • clinical special test
  • x-ray
  • MRI


If you are at risk of rotator cuff injuries or if you’ve had a rotator cuff injury in the past, daily shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises can help prevent future injury.


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