Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

What is Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?

Rotator Cuff tendonitis, as the name suggests is a condition in which the tendons of upper limb muscles get inflamed or injured as a result of poorly regulated movements across shoulder joint. The strength and free range of motion, characteristic of shoulder joints is mediated by tough tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in place while providing support during movement; however, sometime excessive activity can damage the micro fibers of tendons leading to inflammatory and degenerative changes.

Rotator Cuff Injury Signs and Symptoms:

Following sign and symptoms are suggestive of rotator cuff tendonitis:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the shoulder region that aggravates while performing certain activities that involve stretching of arm (for example in over-head arm movements, pushing or pulling heavy objects and even while sleeping on the affected side of the body).
  • Weakness of shoulder/arm movements and limitation of range of motion of shoulder joint
  • Often those with rotator cuff injuries will assume a characteristic body posture to make sure the shoulder remains inactive or immobile
  • The severity and intensity of pain greatly increases when any activity is attempted involving shoulder joint like combing hair (over head movement combined with external rotation of the shoulder), undoing a bra strap (internal rotation of the shoulder) or lifting weight.
  • Pain between shoulder blades may occur due to improper scapular movements, strain of the attached musculature to the scapula, thoracic spine posture, or nerve injury.

How does Rotator Cuff Tendonitis develop?

Shoulder joint is supported by major muscles that connect Humerus to the shoulder blade (Scapula) and collar bone (clavicle).

Rotator cuff Tendonitis is the result of any movement or activity that involves excessive stretching or straining of muscle fibers or tendons of upper limb. Some recognized risk factors are:

  • Overuse or abuse of shoulder muscles that may damage the tendons and leads to inflammatory changes.
  • Falling on an out-stretched hand
  • Lifting heavy objects and placing them in shelves at certain height.
  • Advancing age that leads to wear and tear changes in the main structural protein of shoulder joint, i.e. Collagen and leads to degenerative changes in the shoulder joint
  • Any condition that increases the deposition of Calcium in the joint space or minor sports injuries that over-time leads to the formation of spurs. Calcium crystals and bony spurs further enhance the rate of degenerative changes in the rotator cuff tendons.  This is referred to as Calcific Tendonitis of the Rotator Cuff.
  • Frequent and repetitive overhead movements of arm especially in some sports like throwing base-ball or other sports like swimming.
  • Occupations like painters or Carpenters and weight lifters also prone their shoulder joint to repetitive stress and unnecessary strains that leads to bruising and tearing of tendons.

Some people develop muscle or tendon weakness with age or with some medical conditions like steroid use and some blood disorders, in all such cases the risk greatly increases that can be minimized by performing some muscle stabilization and strengthening exercises. 

The Physiotherapists at Ace Physio are experts at providing customized rotator cuff strengthening and stretching programs to assist in the recovery of function and the decrease of pain in the rotator cuff.

Ace Physio also offers Shockwave Therapy which can be excellent for assisting in the recovery of calcific tendonitis, rotator cuff tendonopathy, or partial tears of the rotator cuff.

To Book an Appointment at the Best Physiotherapy in Toronto call 416-900-6653 or book online at


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