Shoulder Tendonitis Information

Shoulder tendonitis anatomy diagram

Shoulder tendonitis information page. This page has some general information to answer your questions about shoulder tendonitis.

Shoulder tendonitis

What is shoulder tendonitis?

Shoulder tendonitis is the inflammation, irritation and swelling of the tendons in the rotator cuff and bicep. Shoulder tendonitis is usually caused by the pinching of the nerve in the shoulder or from repetitive strain (RS) on the shoulder joint.

This particular type of tendonitis is common amongst sports and activities that require the hand to be moved above the head. These activities include weight llifting and bodybuilding, swimming, rock climbing, swimming and baseball.

Shoulder tendonitis often starts as just a slight pain in the shoulder or upper bicep but can develop into a pain that will encompass the entire shoulder/upper arm area. It's a condition that can be easily treated but in serious cases may become permanent.

Locations of shoulder tendonitis

There are two areas of the shoulder where tendonitis may develop. The rotator cuff andwhere the bicep tendon meets the shoulder. You can see these areas marked with an "X" in the shoulder anatomy diagram above.

Shoulder tendonitis symptoms

Early signs of shoulder tendonitis include a slight pain in the shoulder/upper bicep area when you move your arm up and down. This pain may only occur when the shoulder is under pressure but may still occur at anytime of the day or night.

As the tendonits develops the pain will get more severe and spread from the area where the shoulder meets the arm to all over the rotator cuff. The shoulder will often feel tender and in more severe cases some swelling may be experienced. It's always best to consult your GP to correctly diagnose shoulder tendonitis.

How is shoulder tendonitis diagnosed?

If you think you may have shoulder tendonitis you should stop doing any activities that may stress the shoulder and see your local doctor. Your doctor will ask you for your complete medical history and give you a full body physical examination. If required x-rays may be taken of the affected area. None of these procedures are painful in any way.

A few ways you can help prevent shoulder tendonitis

There are a few ways you can help prevent shoulder tendonitis occuring. First, you need to warm up and stretch the shoulder area before any sport or activity that is going to place strain on your shoulder tendons. Warm ups should be about 5-10 minutes in length. Second, you can be proactive by strengthening the tendons and shoulder muscles before tendonitis develops. This can be done with lingt shoulder exercises performed every few days. For more techniques on how to prevent tendonitis see our tendonitis prevention page.

Treatment for shoulder tendonitis

The treatment that you may recieve for shoulder tendonitis will depend on a variety of factors. These may include:

  • Your age and physical condition
  • How advanced the tendonitis is
  • Your tolerance to medications
  • How well you need it to heal (for professional sports people)
  • Your treatment preference

Depending on the conditions mentioned above, some of the following treatment methods may be used. Now, these are in order from light tendonitis to very severe tendonitis.

  • Rest of the affected shoulder
  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Ice and light massage
  • Shoulder strength training (with very light weights)
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Steriod injections (used rarely)
  • Shoulder surgery

Your doctor may decide to use one or more of these treatments depending on the factors mentioned above. In most cases shoulder tendonitis can be effectively diagnosed and treated without the need for medication or surgery.

The key to treating your shoulder tendonitis is rest. As soon as you feel tendonitis symptoms you should stop the activity and rest your shoulder for at least three weeks. You can find more information on out tendonitis treatment page.

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