Glenohumeral joint translation and muscle activity in patients with symptomatic rotator cuff pathology: An ultrasonographic and electromyographic study with age-matched controls Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES:To determine whether patients with symptomatic rotator cuff pathology had more glenohumeral joint translation and different patterns of rotator cuff muscle activity compared to controls. DESIGN:Repeated measurements of glenohumeral translation and muscle activity in two positions and six testing conditions in two groups. METHODS:Twenty participants with a symptomatic and diagnosed rotator cuff tear and 20 age, and gender matched controls were included. Neuromuscular activity was tested by inserting intramuscular electrodes in the rotator cuff muscles. Anterior and posterior glenohumeral translations were measured using real time ultrasound in testing conditions (with and without translation force, with and without isometric internal and external rotation), in two positions (shoulder neutral, 90° of abduction) and two force directions (anterior, posterior). RESULTS:Symptomatic pathology group demonstrated increased passive glenohumeral translation with posterior translation force (p<0.05). Overall, rotator cuff muscle contraction in the pathology group limited joint translation in a similar manner to the control group, but they did not show the normal direction specific pattern in the neutral posterior position (p<0.03). The pathology group demonstrated reduced EMG activity in the upper infraspinatus muscle relative to the reference position (p<0.02) with anterior translation force and in the supraspinatus (p<0.05) muscle with anterior and posterior translation force in the abducted position. CONCLUSIONS:Symptomatic pathology resulted in increased passive glenohumeral joint translation. Although there were some reductions in muscle activity with injury, their rotator cuff still controlled glenohumeral translation. These results highlight the need to consider joint translation in the assessment and management of patients with rotator cuff injury.

publication date

  • 2018