Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy - Shoulder Pain

What is Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy?

Rotator cuff tendinopathy is a type of overuse injury to the tendon that joins the muscle to the bone. Pain may be experienced around the shoulder and find it increases with certain movements. Tendinopathy injuries usually occur from an increase in activity and/or load. This might even be returning to normal amount of activity after a prolonged period of reduced activity.

For the shoulder this may be repetitive overhead activity at work, from sports or activities at home, or lifting heavier objects than what you are normally used to. Individuals may be doing the same things, albeit more frequently during the day or week.

Physiotherapists are experts in guiding you through Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy.

During treatment, they analyze, review, and prescribe customised treatment plans for your specific body condition so you can achieve the fastest and most effective recovery possible.


Indicators of Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy?

One of the biggest indicators we know you may have rotator cuff tendinopathy is the recently increased load and/or activity. The rotator cuff itself is responsible for particular movements of the shoulder and these may increase some of the pain you experience, or where the tendons are may feel tender or painful to touch.

This issue may have a longer history of a painful shoulder, followed by a period of eased symptoms, then the painful shoulder returning and repeating this cycle. Usually also following increases and decreases in activities.


Common aggravators

Pain is primarily aggravated by increased activities involving the affected shoulder, for example if you played a long volleyball competition, or at your work you had to put away heavy boxes on the top shelf. You may feel more pain at the end of day and worse if more activity throughout the day.

In time, pain may become elicited when putting your arm in particular positions, such as out to the side, overhead or behind your back. Usually, the pain is quite focal to the front of the shoulder.


Eases of Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

Rotator cuff tendinopathy pain typically eases with a period of rest from aggravating activities. Individuals may find some relief rubbing the sore areas. Cortisone injections can also minimise pain although this may last 13-26 weeks (Coombes et al. 2010).


Treatment Plans for Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy 

The treatment plan for rotator cuff tendinopathy typically involves minimising levels of pain and modifying activities to reduce aggravating the shoulder. Load is then introduced back to the shoulder in a step-wise manner to restore the capacity of the tendons to perform activities without pain. It can be common for flareups of pain, particularly with an increase in load and activity as part of the treatment plan or outside of physiotherapy in daily activities. Depending on the individual, treatment can take 6-12 weeks, or longer depending on progress and flare-ups.


Common treatments

Exercise is the primary treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy to improve the strength of the muscles of the rotator cuff and improve the capacity of the tendons. Initial exercise may involve isometric shoulder exercises to introduce load with minimal pain, dosages of these exercises can vary according to level of pain, although the aim is to increase dosage without significantly aggravating pain levels. Exercises may then progress to addition of resistance with weights or use of resistance bands moving the shoulder through its range of motion.





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