what is a rotator cuff, anyway? and why does a strain in it hurt my entire arm?

yes, I’m seeing my doc about it, and don’t want medical advice.

I’m just curious - what exactly is the rotator cuff? and, now that I’ve strained it somehow, why does it hurt my entire upper arm when I stretch my arm to reach for something?

Till someone my knowledgeable, or with more time to look it up answers, let me explain what I remember from my anatomy class.

Basically, the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that holds your humerus (upper arm bone) to the scapula (shoulder blade). When the tendons or muscles get strained, or tear, they can cause the humerus to shift in the shoulder joint causing great pain.

Well, everything’s a trade-off, you know that, right? the shoulder is a ball and socket type joint, just like the hip, but in the case of the hip, the ball is set deep in the socket, whereas the shoulder joint is kind of hung out there. You Have much greater range of motion that way, the shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in your body, but the trade-off is instability. If you hold your arm out you can almost imagine it like one of those giant cranes that have a bunch of cables to help support it.

The muscle groups that comprise the rotator cuff help connect the shoulder blade to the top of the arm, if you’ve injured them, the joint has more play in it than usual, and other muscle have to take up the slack. It also puts more stress on tendons and ligaments on the other side of the joint from the injury, so you can have pain kinda all over.

Clear as mud? maybe this’ll help