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  • Writer's pictureAdam Whatley

Dealing with shoulder chronic tendinitis

Shoulder tendonitis (or tendinitis) is pain and inflammation to the tendons of your shoulder's rotator cuff muscles. It is these muscles that are responsible for stabilising the shoulder joint and can easily become comprised! 

What are the causes of shoulder tendinitis?

The most common cause of shoulder tendonitis is repeated overload and microtrauma to the rotator cuff tendons. This is more common than trauma. 

Rotator Cuff Impingement

This where your rotator cuff tendon becomes pinched underneath the top shoulder bone. If repeated shoulder impingement occurs, your rotator cuff tendon becomes inflamed and swollen, a condition called shoulder tendonitis or shoulder impingement syndrome. Furthermore, over the top of this tendon lies a bursa (fluid filled sac that reduces friction). Sometimes this bursa can also become inflamed – causing shoulder bursitis (Or clinically known as subacromial bursitis).

What are the treatment options for shoulder tendinitis?

There are a few stages of treatment and rehabilitation that need to happen to treat and prevent shoulder tendinitis recurrence. These are: 1) Early pain and Injury: Pain Relief & Anti-inflammatory Advice As with most soft tissue injuries the initial treatment is Rest, Ice, and Protection. In the early acute stages, you’ll most likely be unable to fully lift your arm or sleep comfortably. Firstly, the aim is to provide you with some active rest from pain-provoking movements. 

Anti-inflammatory medication (if tolerated) may help reduce your pain and swelling. However, it is best to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs during the initial 48 to 72 hours. Here at Dynamic Osteopaths in Solihull we can guide you on pain relieving techniques including joint mobilisations, massage, acupuncture or dry needling to assist your recovery. 2) Promote Range of Motion Shoulder tendonitis may take weeks to heal. During this time period, you should be aiming to stimulate active movement of the shoulder to allow tissue recovery.

Here you will be advised on joint mobilisations, massage, muscle stretches, and light exercises. 

3) Restore Scapular Control and Stability Your shoulder blade has a vital role as the main dynamically stable base plate that attaches your arm to your chest wall. Normal shoulder blade movement is required for a pain-free and powerful shoulder function. Poor movement and control here is a major cause of rotator cuff impingement and shoulder tendinitis. Any issues will be an important component of your rehabilitation. 4) Restore Normal Neck Function Your neck and upper back are very important in the rehabilitation of shoulder pain and recovery. Neck dysfunction can not only refer pain directly to your shoulder, but it can affect a nerve’s that supply your muscles cause weakness. Painful neck and other spinal structures from poor posture or injury don’t provide your shoulder with optimal function. 5) Restore Rotator Cuff Strength and Function Your rotator cuff is the most critical group of shoulder stability muscles, and i Essential for shoulder function. It is these muscles that keep the head of your arm bone in its socket and prevents impingement and dislocation injuries.  

Here specific strengthening the rotator cuff muscles is crucial in a successful shoulder tendonitis rehabilitation program. Your rotator cuff exercises need to be progressed in both load and position to accommodate for your specifically injured tendons.  Here at Dynamic Osteopaths will prescribe the most appropriate rotator cuff strengthening exercises for you. 6) Power, Proprioception & Agility Sometimes your shoulder tendonitis has been caused by sport which is usually during high-speed activities, which place high forces on joints, or repetitive actions. In order to prevent a recurrence as you return to your sport, your osteopath will guide you through exercises to address these important components of rehabilitation to both prevent a recurrence and improve your sporting performance. 7) Return to Sport or Work Depending on the demands of your chosen sport or your job, you will require specific sport-specific or work-specific exercises and a progressed training regime to enable a safe and injury-free return to your chosen sport or employment. Your Osteopath Solihull will discuss your goals, time frames and training schedules with you to optimise you for a complete recovery. Search to find out more.

Dynamic Osteopaths 


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