Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Written by Brian Hartz, DPT, MPT, OCS, CSCS


Does your upper extremity hurt?

Shoulder pain is most often caused by a condition called rotator cuff tendonitis. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Considering these muscles work as a collective, if one area is inflamed or injured, the whole shoulder is affected.

Rotator cuff tendonitis is caused by inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. The onset of pain is typically sudden and may limit you from being able to move your arm above shoulder level comfortably. This is a common ailment among athletes, such as softball and baseball players, as well as swimmers. Additionally, non-athletes may experience this pain if there is a history of heavy lifting or activities involving repetitive movements of the shoulder. Examples include the profession of a painter or carpenter.

Delayed treatment of rotator cuff tendonitis can lead to more severe pain and elongated recovery time. Treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy and possibly steroid injections. Adequate and prompt treatment, however, can lead to complete recovery. Physical therapy will help improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, allowing the patient to return to daily activities and/or work without pain.

After years of competitive swimming, I know the importance of shoulder strength and how shoulder pain can negatively affect life. If you are concerned about shoulder pain, no matter how slight or severe, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Brian Hartz, DPT, OCS, CSCS