Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Rotator cuff tendonitis is often called shoulder tendonitis. Tendonits is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons take longer than muscles to heal because they have less blood supply than muscles.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

The rotator cuff may develop tendonitis from overuse. Chronic overuse injuries take place over weeks or months. When a muscle or tendon is stressed beyond its limit, microscopic tears occur. Inflammation, which is part of the healing process, occurs. When the muscle or tendon is not given a chance to heal before it is subjected to the same activity, inflammation becomes chronic.

Chronic inflammation causes progressive damage to the tissues, and over time the tendons become less elastic and more susceptible to tearing. Inflammation of the tendons also may result in shoulder impingement syndrome.

Activities that may result in injury to the rotator cuff include activities that involve repetitively raising the arms above shoulder level (such as swimming, tennis, house painting). Combining force with overhead activities, e.g. stacking heavy objects on high shelves, increases the risk of injury.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

The symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis, when caused by overuse, are mild and usually intermittent in the beginning and gradually become more severe. A person may not recall an incident that triggered the pain. The pain, which is felt in the top-outer part of the shoulder, is often triggered when lifting the arm above shoulder level or placing the arm in an awkward position. The pain may spread down the arm to the elbow. It may be painful to lie on the affected shoulder. There may be weakness of shoulder, especially when lifting the arm overhead. If nothing is done to address the problem, it may worsen.

See Treatment of Rotator Cuff Injuries.