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Rotator cuff muscles

Other Terms: Musculotendinous cuff, Rotator cuff


The rotator cuff muscles are an important structural and functional group that play a critical role in stabilizing the shoulder joint. The four muscles have thick, flat tendons of insertion on the greater and lesser tubercles of the humerus and form a strong cuff around all but the inferior aspect of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. These tendons are intimately applied to the fibrous membrane of the joint capsule. Individually, each muscle contributes little to the total range of motion of the glenohumeral joint and as the group name indicates they produce the axial rotation movements of the joint. However, the muscles play a prominent role in stabilizing the joint and positioning the head of the humerus in the glenoid cavity. The coordinated function of these muscles positions and stabilizes the shoulder joint to provide optimal efficiency of the large primary movers of this joint. When the rotator cuff muscles are compromised by injury, the shoulder joint loses stability and becomes highly susceptible to dislocation.


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