How Do You Treat Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?

Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2022
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Rotator cuff tendonitis results from inflamed tendons in your rotator cuff.

Repetitive use of the rotator cuff or shoulder joint causes mechanical compression of the tissue and results in inflammation of the tendons. This condition is called rotator cuff tendonitis. The treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the age of the person.

Resting the shoulder joint adequately is the immediate and successful treatment for rotator cuff tendonitis.

Other treatments include:

  • Medications
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended to relieve pain but are not curative.
    • Corticosteroid injections can provide temporary relief if you are not responding to traditional treatment. Regular injections are not recommended because they can cause more damage to the tendons.
  • Conservative treatment
    • Apply a cold pack to the area.
    • Refrain from excess activity that involves the joint.
    • Avoid carrying heavy objects.
  • Physiotherapy
    • The most popular and typically most successful treatment for tendinopathies is physiotherapy.
    • Aims to reduce pain while improving mobility and function. Exercise is frequently used to enhance posture, rotator cuff endurance, and coordination between arm and shoulder blade muscles.
    • Studies have reported that thoracic spine mobilization or manipulation is an effective treatment for shoulder dysfunction. Strength training can help with rotator cuff tendonitis.
  • Surgery
    • The treatment of choice for more severe cases that have not improved with other treatments. Surgery removes the scarred or inflamed tissue to help strengthen the muscles and tendons.
    • Grafts could be used to replace the removed tissues.
    • Usually performed arthroscopically by inserting a camera and tiny instruments into the rotator cuff region to locate and fix it.
    • Open surgery is done when it is not possible to perform arthroscopy.
    • Surgery is typically considered a last resort due to the risks involved.

What is rotator cuff tendonitis?

The rotator cuff is a collection of four tendons surrounding the humeral head and controls arm rotation and elevation. These muscles and tendons, together with the deltoid muscle, supply mobility and strength to the shoulder for all waist-and shoulder-level or higher tasks.

An inflammation of a set of shoulder muscles and the lubricating system called bursa are symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis. This syndrome is frequently induced by repetitive overhead tasks, such as pitching, raking, vehicle washing, and various other highly repetitive actions. It can be caused by a sudden injury.

Rotator cuff injuries are the most common cause of shoulder pain and restricted activity in athletes of all ages. Tendonitis is the most common type of rotator cuff injury.

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis?

A shoulder injury could range from mild to severe inflammation of the entire rotator cuff. Rotator cuff tendonitis occurs when the tendon in your rotator cuff gets inflamed and thickens. Many ordinary tasks, such as brushing your hair or dressing, may become difficult.

Symptoms could include:

  • Pain
    • While lying on the aching shoulder
    • Raising or moving the arm
    • At rest that disrupts sleep
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Stiffness of the shoulder
  • When your arm is raised to shoulder height or you move your hand behind your back or behind your head, you may hear a clicking sound and experience pain
  • Tenderness over the cuff
  • As your condition worsens, your discomfort may become unbearable even while you are at rest
  • Reduced muscle mass


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What are the risk factors for rotator cuff tendonitis?

Overuse is the most typical cause of this condition. This indicates that the rotator cuff tendons are stressed beyond their capacity and, eventually, get injured.

  • In most cases, this arises because of participation in particular sports and overhead activities that demand the arm to move frequently above the head. Improper techniques in any sport are one of the leading causes of tissue overload, including tendons, which can lead to tendonitis.
  • You do not need to be a professional athlete to get this condition.
  • People who work in industries that involve overhead labor or heavy lifting are at a higher risk.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Poor posture
    • Rounded shoulders
    • Prolonged computer use
  • Muscle and tissue tension around the shoulder joint
  • Muscle weakness or imbalance in and around the shoulder

Things to know about rotator cuff tendonitis

  • Most cases of rotator cuff tendonitis respond extremely well to rehabilitation, and you should notice improvement within 6 to 12 weeks.
  • If left untreated, the condition can progress to a partial or total tendon tear and change the way your shoulder joint moves, resulting in the early stages of arthritis.
  • Keeping your shoulder muscles strong and balanced is a must to maintain total fitness and avoid reinjuries.
  • Most cases of rotator cuff tendonitis include many variables, and complete healing depends on precisely diagnosing and addressing all these causes.
  • Each person’s treatment should be carefully planned.
Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2022
Image Source: iStock image

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