Rotator Cuff Therapy Exercises

What is Rotator Cuff Tendinitis?

Rotator cuff tendinitis is an inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons. Inflammation is the irritation and swelling of the tendons. The suffix "itis" denotes diseases characterized by inflammation.

In this section I want to give you an understanding of what rotator cuff tendinitis is, how and why it occurred and what treatment options are available to you.

Cuff tendinitis is a very common and painful rotator cuff problem but it can be treated. The really good news is that it can most often and most effectively be treated by nothing more than exercise.

Rotator cuff tendinitis often known as rotator cuff tendonitis is a disease that affects the rotator cuff tendons. Any disease affecting the rotator cuff tendons can be referred to as a rotator cuff tendinopathy. It is important to know these different terms as it does get confusing.

Causes of rotator cuff tendinitis

Of the four rotator cuff tendons, it is the tendon of the suprasinatis muscle that is most often affected. The most common cause of tendinitis is through over use injuries. Particularly when the over use is associated with over head work. Sports such as baseball, swimming and tennis are prime examples.


Rotator Cuff TendinitisThe incidence of rotator cuff tendinitis is not restricted purely to sports however.

The older we get the more susceptible we become to ftis type problems.

Those of us over the age 40 for example are more likely to suffer a tendinopathy of some kind simply because our tendons are not as strong as they once were.

They do not heal as quickly from tiny tears and this gradually leads to tendinitis developing.

The reason that the suprasinatis tendon is most often affected is that it runs directly beneath the acromion.

The tendon can be squeezed by the acromion a process known as rotator cuff impingement.

This impingement can be both a cause and a result of tendinitis.

Symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis

The main symptoms of cuff tendinitis are

  • Pain – especially on arm movement
  • Weakness – especially when lifting the arm
  • Discomfort at night – especially if sleeping on the affected shoulder


There are a number of other complicating factors that can cause or develop from tendinitis.

  • Impingement – can cause tendinitis
  • Sub acromion bone spars – can rub on the tendon
  • Bursitis – swollen or inflamed bursa within the shoulder can both cause and develop from tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff tear – A tendon weakened by tendinitis is more likely to tear
  • Calcific tendinitis – Tendons inflamed over a long period of time can have calcium deposited within them

Rotator cuff tendinitis can be treated effectively in most cases with non invasive techniques. The initial treatment following the development of symptoms involves the R.I.C.E principle i.e. Rest, Ice, compression and elevation of the affected joint. This is often all that is required.

Rotator cuff rehabilitation exercises are the next step in the recovery process. A selection of rotator cuff exercises and stretches are often the key to a successful recovery. Exercise and stretching combined will strengthen the tendons, prevent excessive scarring and encourage new tendon to be laid down effectively.

Close to 90% of all sufferers of tendinitis will feel a significant reduction in pain by following these simple steps.

Although the symptoms may dissipate after a short period of time complete recovery takes a minimum of 6 weeks. This is because the formation of scar tissue and new tendon takes at least this long to form. It is only once the new tendon has been laid down that the condition is effectively cured. In more severe or longstanding cases this process can take in excess of six months.

If the symptoms persist then it may be that a non steroidal injection may be advised. The injection typically consists of two distinct medications. The firs, is a small amount of medication to numb the shoulder, such as lidocaine. The second is an anti-inflammatory drug, such as cortisone. Again the success rates are high with over 70% of patients showing an improvement.


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