How To Overcome Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

What Is Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?

Rotator cuff tendonitis, also known as impingement syndrome, affects the tendons and muscles that help move your shoulder.

The rotator cuff itself can be defined as the group of four muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint and let you lift and rotate your arms. These tendons/muscles connect your upper arm (humerus) to your shoulder blade (scapula), and whenever tendonitis is involved, they are inflamed, irritated, and extremely swollen.

Rotator cuff tendonitis can be the result of keeping your shoulder in one position for a while, sleeping on your shoulder every night, or participating in activities that require lifting your arm over your head often.

This usually occurs in baseball, volleyball, swimming, and tennis. With rotator cuff injuries being very common and affecting over 3 million people in the U.S. every year, it is very important to be educated on these injuries.

Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Some common symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis may include:

  • Pain and swelling in the front of your shoulder and side of your arm
  • Pain triggered by raising or lowering your arm 
  • A clicking sound when raising your arm
  • Stiffness 
  • Shoulder pain that disturbs your sleep
  • Shoulder pain when reaching behind your back
  • A loss of mobility and strength in the affected arm(s)

How Did You Get Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?

Rotator cuff tendonitis, like so many other injuries in tennis, is associated with everyday wear and tear.

With this occurring, the effects of injuring your rotator cuff over and over causes frequent inflammation. Inflammation is one of your body’s defense mechanisms where the immune system recognizes damaged cells, irritants, and pathogens, and starts the healing process.

Even though inflammation is an important part of the healing process, there are many effects of acute swelling, and the acronym PRISH can be used to describe it.

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Immobility
  • Swelling
  • Heat

Since inflammation is unpredictable, these effects could happen at any time and put a player out of sports in the middle of a season.

The constant chance of reinjuring the rotator cuff makes for a nasty cycle of pain and inflammation with no healing gained.

How You Can Prevent Getting It Again!

Rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common rotator cuff injury, and everyone is susceptible. However, simple lifestyle choices can help prevent shoulder injuries. 

  • ALWAYS warm up– warming up every part of your body that you can helps drastically lower the chances of any injury in the waiting. 
  • Stretch before lifting/training– this majorly reduces the risk of injuries, improves mechanical efficiency and overall performance, and prepares your body for the stress of exercise. 
  • Maintain proper posture- maintaining proper posture during daily activities, such as sitting, helps you stay away from rounding your shoulders.
  • Keep your upper body strong and flexible- keeping mainly the upper back and shoulders strong can prevent wear and tear, and keeping them flexible allows a larger range of motion without injuries.

How To Overcome Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Usually, a rotator cuff can heal in 2-4 weeks, however, if your tendonitis is severe, it could take months and/or surgery.

If the pain seems to interfere with your daily life or if you injure yourself again, your doctor might suggest steroids. Just like most injuries, the sooner treatment is sought, the greater your chances of recovery are. 

If found soon enough, non-surgical home remedies are available, such as:

  • Mainly R & I of R.I.C.E, rest and any form of a cold compress to the outer & inner portions of the shoulder for 15-20 minutes every 4-6 hours
  • Correct posture to relieve pain
  • Slings/shoulder tape for support
  • Braces for support and compression to the injury

If severe enough, an open surgery or minimally invasive procedure will occur to repair the damage done in the rotator cuff with extensive rehabilitation afterwards to obtain the right amount of motion back. 

Education on your own injuries is the most important thing you can do for yourself. The more you know, the better your chances are of beating whatever injury you are facing.

Physical Therapy To Beat Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Once the swelling is down and the arm is no longer painful to move, physical therapy can help to heal and prevent a loss of motion or a “frozen shoulder”.

The following article and exercises are a big help to overcome rotator cuff tendonitis. 

  • Pendulum swing
  • Crossover arm stretch
  • Standing row
  • Internal rotation
  • Posterior stretch

5 Stretches and Exercises for Rotator Cuff Tears

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