Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

What is it/what happens to cause this issue?

Many people often mistake rotator cuff tears and rotator cuff tendonitis. However, they are quite different. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis happens when there is swelling of the tendons connecting the muscles and bones in the shoulder.

This condition usually happens over the course of time. It can happen for several reasons, including keeping the shoulder in one position for a while, sleeping on the same shoulder every night, or continuously participating in activities that require extending the arm over the head. Sometimes, rotator cuff tendinitis can even happen for no apparent reason.

Symptoms to look for include pain that is often described as a dull ache, and stiffness around the shoulder joint, pain and a clicking sound triggered when raising or lowering the arm, pain when reaching behind the back, pain that causes you to wake from sleep, and a loss of mobility and strength in the arm. These symptoms only get worse with time. It may seem that with rest, they go away in the beginning, but later they can become much more constant.

What does a typical treatment look like?

Treatment for rotator cuff tendonitis can vary depending on the severity of the problem. Physical therapy is commonly prescribed, which consists of stretching and other passive exercises to help in restoring complete range of motion and also ease pain in your shoulder. Once the pain is under control, your physical therapist will begin teaching you exercises that will help regain strength in your arm and shoulder.

If your rotator cuff tendinitis is not responding to mild, conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection. It wont give you hulk arms, though. This is injected into the tendon to reduce inflammation, which reduces your overall pain.

Ultimately, if your injury does not respond to any nonsurgical treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery. It can usually be done in a fairly noninvasive form of shoulder surgery called an arthroscopy. This uses two or three small cuts around the shoulder, through which your doctor will insert various instruments and begin to repair the damaged shoulder. One of these instruments will have a camera, allowing your surgeon to view the damaged tissue through the small incisions.

Is there a recovery time before it’s gone or does it have lingering effects?

After surgery, recovery time consists of rest and physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion. This physical therapy is one of the most important aspects of healing, as it allows the patient to relearn how to move the affected area. Most people are able to experience full recovery after having rotator cuff surgery. However, this may take several months to completely heal and return to its original ability.

What are the consequences of not treating it?

It is important to see a doctor and treat any of these symptoms. After treatment, be sure to allow the shoulder to rest for the recommended amount of time. Ignoring this could lead to irreversible damage in your shoulder, and ultimately lead to a disability.