Shoulder tendonitis or inflammation of the shoulder tendons is a complication due to damage to the shoulder tendons. It leads to shoulder pain and inflammation, and impaired shoulder motor function. This complication often occurs in athletes whose shoulders and upper limbs are highly mobile, which is why it is known as a common sports injury and can usually be treated with exercise physiotherapy.
Excessive use of the shoulder due to repetitive activities and repetitive movements is the most important cause of shoulder joint tendonitis, which is why athletes and people who use their shoulders a lot for occupational reasons are more at risk of this injury. Since it is impossible to treat this disease spontaneously and it is a progressive disease, timely treatment is very important, and delay in treatment can lead to other problems such as shoulder bursitis (inflammation of the shoulder bursa) rotator cuff rupture, and also Frozen shoulder syndrome.
How Is Shoulder Tendonitis Diagnosed?
The health care provider will review your complete health history and perform a physical examination. Diagnostic tests such as the following may also be needed:
- X-Ray. Invisible electromagnetic energy rays provide images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
- MRI. Large magnets and computers create accurate images of your limbs and body structure.
- Ultrasound ultrasound. High-frequency sound waves create an image of a part of the body’s interior.
Symptoms of Shoulder Tendonitis
- Shoulder joint pain that intensifies when the shoulder is moved.
- Painful shoulder movements
- Shoulder sensitivity to touch and pressure
- Inability to raise the hand above the head
- Swelling and inflammation of the shoulder joint
- Shoulder joint weakness
- Hearing a sound from the shoulder when moving it
- Decreased shoulder mobility
- Muscle cramps near the shoulder joint
- Propagation of pain in the neck and arms
- Restriction of shoulder range of motion
What Are the Possible Complications of Shoulder Tendonitis?
If treatment is not started when your pain and discomfort are relatively mild, problems may occur. These problems include:
- Pain that disturbs your sleep.
- Loss of strength or movement in the injured arm
- You have trouble doing things requiring you to move the injured arm to the back or top of your head, which usually involves fastening a zipper or buttons or placing objects in high places.
When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider?
- Your pain is getting worse.
- The movement of the injured arm becomes more difficult.
- The pain of sleep disturbs you.
- Pain and discomfort prevent you from doing normal activities.
- You may experience numbness or tingling in your arms or hands.
Treatment methods for Shoulder Tendinitis
The primary treatment for shoulder tendonitis involves controlling pain and swelling for healing. This can be done by doing the following:
- Avoid activities that cause pain.
- Use an ice pack on your shoulder three to four times a day.
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve)
Further treatment includes the following:
Your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy initially includes stretching and other inactive exercises to help restore range of motion and relieve pain.
Once the pain is under control, your physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help restore strength in your arms and shoulders.
If inflammation of your shoulder tendon is not controlled with more conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend steroid injections. Steroids are injected into the tendon to reduce inflammation, which reduces pain.
If non-surgical treatment is not successful, your doctor may recommend surgery. Most people experience complete recovery after rotator cuff surgery. Surgery involves recovery that includes rest and physiotherapy to regain strength and range of motion. The most non-invasive form of shoulder surgery is arthroscopy. An arthroscopy involves two or three small incisions around your shoulder, through which the doctor inserts various instruments. One of these instruments will have a camera, so the surgeon can see the damaged tissue through small incisions. Open shoulder surgery is usually not necessary for inflammation of the shoulder tendon. However, this procedure may be used if there are other problems, such as a large ruptured tendon in the shoulder.
Causes and risk factors of Tendinitis
- Perform repetitive activities with the shoulders and upper limbs
- Shoulder injury due to sudden and severe blows or light and frequent blows
- Impaired blood flow to the shoulder due to blood diseases
- Excessive stretching of the shoulder muscles during repetitive activities
- Doing heavy exercise without prior preparation
- Aging due to decreased tendon elasticity
Key points about shoulder tendonitis
- Shoulder tendonitis is an inflammation of the rotator cuff or biceps tendon. And often, the result is that the surrounding structures press your tendon.
- Inflammation of the shoulder joint is caused by performing certain exercises that require the arm to move frequently over the head.
- Symptoms may include an inability to hold the arm in certain positions or pain in the shoulder.
- This complication can be diagnosed through a medical history, physical examination, and tests such as X-rays and MRIs.
- Treatment may include rest, medication, strengthening exercises, ultrasound therapy, and corticosteroid shots.
- Surgery is used for severe injury or rupture.
Tips to help you get the most out of your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
- Before you go, write down the questions you want to be answered.
- Bring someone to help you ask your questions, and remember what the provider tells you.
- At the visit, write the name of a new diagnosis and other medications, treatments, or tests.
- Also, write down the new instructions that the provider gives you.
- Learn why a new drug or treatment has been prescribed and how it helps. Also, know the side effects.
- Ask if there are other ways your disease can be treated.
- Understand why an experiment or method is recommended and what the results mean.
- Know what to expect if you are not taking medication or having a test or procedure.
- If you have another appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose of that appointment.
- Find out how you can contact your provider if you have any questions.