Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Treatment for Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

February 26, 2014

What Is It?

A common condition and one of the chief causes of shoulder pain, rotator cuff tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder. The shoulder is a very complex ball and socket joint, where the ball of the upper arm fits into the socket of the shoulder, with the collarbone in front and the shoulder blade behind. The rotator cuff refers to four different muscles and their associated tendons that form a cap over the ball of the shoulder, holding it in place while permitting a great range of motion. When these tendons suffer inflammation, it is referred to as rotator cuff tendinitis.

What Are The Major Symptoms?

  • Changing the position of the arm is painful, such as lifting it over your head or returning it to a lowered position.
  • The shoulder will be stiff and sore, with minor swelling.
  • The pain is usually not very severe, and in the early stages of such an injury people often ignore it and continue to use their arm normally, worsening the condition.

Regardless of the symptoms, the exact cause of shoulder pain can be complex to diagnose and should be left to a medical doctor. Once you know your diagnosis, effective treatment can begin.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Tendinitis?

Because of how complex the shoulder joint is and how frequently it is used, it is relatively easy to damage the rotator cuff. Young athletes who use their arms frequently, and especially perform large motions or lift their arms over their heads (such as swimmer and tennis players) are particularly susceptible, as are people who approach middle age.

What Are The Treatment Options?

Activity modification (especially avoiding overhead activities) and rest are frequently recommended, as are over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling. Exercise therapy is a mainstay. It helps restore a normal range of motion to the shoulder, stretching and strengthening muscles and tendons that have become inflamed. Occasionally rotator cuff inflammation can actually be the result of a rotator cuff tear. A doctor should evaluate this possibility, as surgery may be required.


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