shoulder conditions

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

With age, people are more likely to suffer from rotator cuff injuries, which are prevalent. People who work in occupations that demand a lot of overhead movement are more likely to develop these symptoms earlier in life. Painters and carpenters are two examples of tradespeople.

There is little hope of recovery from rotator cuff rips unless the damage is very minor. Anti-inflammatory medicine and physical therapy may be necessary for some, but most require surgery.

What is Rotator Cuff Tendinitis?

Muscles and tendons connect the upper arm bone (the humerus) to the shoulder. While these muscles control the rotation of the arm out away from the body, they are also responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint. There are four tendons that create a “cap” or “hood” around the head of the humerus when they merge together. The head of this bone is the ball in your shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint. Tendinitis in the cuff may restrict the range of motion in this joint.

Tendonitis is an inflammation of the rotator cuff muscle group and the lubricating system known as the BURSA. When it comes to rotator cuff tendonitis, the term “bursitis” is not a diagnosis but rather a symptom.


Causes of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Repetitive overhead tasks such as tossing, scrubbing windows, and swimming are often the cause of this condition. It can also happen as a result of an injury. 

Injuries to the rotator cuff are the most prevalent cause of shoulder discomfort and activity limitations in athletes of all ages. The most common type of rotator cuff damage is tendinitis.

Shoulder weakness and/or reduced range of motion can also be caused by long-term inflammation or damage to the shoulder. Due to the gradual weakening of the fibers, tendinitis can lead to a partial or full tendon tear.

In rarer cases, it may also occur in patients who have loose joints or atypical bone structure in their shoulders.


Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

One of the most common signs is a prickling pain in the upper arm that extends down to the shoulder blade. It is possible for the aching to originate from the front or top of the shoulder too.

The pain worsens when you raise your arms overhead or engage in activities that require reaching behind the body like fastening your brassiere or getting something from the backseat.

When these symptoms are present, it’s time to consult a physical therapist.

Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tendinitis


During the physical examination, your physical therapist will push on various regions of your shoulder and move your arm in various positions. He or she will also assess the muscular strength in your arms and around your shoulder.

Doctors often use diagnostic imaging to rule out other probable illnesses, including but not limited to X-ray or MRI. An X-ray won’t reveal rotator cuff damage, but it might show bone spurs or other possible reasons for your symptoms, such as arthritis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be utilized to visualize a cuff tear if one is suspected. Even minor rotator cuff injuries can be detected with an MRI. 

anatomy of rotator cuff tendinitis


Conditioning Program. Stop or significantly reduce any activity that requires the use of the shoulder at or above the level of the shoulder joint. Exercising above the level of the shoulder will simply aggravate the tendons more by increasing inflammation. Total immobility, though, might lead to a “frozen” shoulder if the joint stiffens. 

Your physical therapist will provide you with a detailed program for mild stretching and conditioning that will maintain the full range of motion in your shoulders.

Cold Compress. Apply ice or cold packs thrice a day for at least 15-20 minutes to reduce pain and inflammation.

NSFID. When symptoms persist, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or pain relievers. There are a variety of NSFID options but your physical therapist will help you find the best one for you.  It is important to take these medications just as prescribed because they may have negative effects.

Steroids. Cortisone may be used to relieve inflammation and discomfort if other therapies fail. These drugs can be either orally or injected directly into the damaged tendon. For long-term pain management, steroids are only used when absolutely required.

Without a cuff tear, non-surgical therapy for rotator cuff tendinitis is generally all that is needed to eliminate the pain and inflammation. When these therapies fail to relieve the pain and steroid injections only give short-term relief, surgery is an option.

Get a free telehealth or walk-in consultation with our physical therapist now to know more about this condition.

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Allcare Physical Therapy
1213 Avenue P, Brooklyn, NY

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