Rotator ruff tendonitis, also known as bursitis, is the term used to describe the inflammation, swelling and irritation of the tendons around the shoulder. Rotator cuff tendonitis is a very common condition, effecting men and women of any age and demographic. In most cases the condition can be easily treated without seeing your doctor. On this page we’re going to take a look at the causes, symptoms, treatment and preventionof rotator cuff tendonitis.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

There are 4 main reasons why rotator cuff tendonitis is likely to occur. Usually the problems center around a general weakness in the joint, but in some cases the problem starts at birth. Here are the 4 common causes:

  1. From Birth
    Some people are born with a “hooked” acromion that will predispose them to getting rotator suff tendonitis.
  2. Weakness Around The Rotator Cuff
    A rotator cuff weakness causes the humerus to ride up and pinch the cuff. This means that the bursa (a water-balloon type structure that acts as a cushion between the rotator cuff and acromion/humerus) gets inflamed.
  3. Excess Stress & Repetition
    This is the common cause amoungst sports people and professional athletes. This may be due to training or playing too hard for too long or excess strain being placed on in the form of weight (weight lifter/bodybuilder).
  4. Through Injury
    Other shoulder injuries may lead to rotator cuff tendonitis.

Possible Symptoms

The symptoms associated with rotator cuff tendonitis usually build up gradually, starting with some mild pain around the shoulder area. If you suffer from the condition you may experience these symptoms:

  1. Pain
    Pain located primarily on top and in the front of your shoulder. Sometimes you can have pain at the side of your shoulder. Usually is worse with any overhead activity (reaching up above the level of your shoulder). The pain is usually felt during or after exercise or activity but as the tendonitis gets worse the pain may be felt at all times throughout the day.
  2. Weakness
    Your shoulder may feel weaker than usual. This will be especially apparent with overhead and pushing movements.
  3. Popping/Cracking
    Sometimes bursitis that occurs with rotator cuff tendonitis can cause a mild popping or crackling sensation in the shoulder.
  4. Unable to Sleep on Shoulder
    Many sufferers complain about not being able to sleep on the side that is affected by tendonitis.
  5. Hot & Burning Feeling
    You may feel a “hot” or “burning” sensation around the shoulder area

Treating the Condition

In the majority of cases rotator cuff tendonitis can be treated without seeing your doctor. There are several steps you can follow to try and treat the pain and reduce inflammation. Follow these steps:

  1. Stop any activities that can aggravate your symptoms. This may mean you will have to stop sporting activities, work or exercise related activities. You should not attempt any of these activities until the tendonitis has fully healed.
  2. Begin R.I.C.E. treatment. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. You should apply this treatment on and off until the pain subsides.
  3. If needed, take over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.
  4. Strengthen your rotatorcuff.
  5. Slowly ease back into physical activity.

Strengthening your rotator cuff is the key to preventing rotator cuff tendonitis in the future. There are several exercises you can perform with very light weights to help build up some extra strength. These exercises include dumbell above the head press, lateral dumbbell raises, upright row and shoulder machine press. It’s very important that these exercises are performed with very light weights.

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis Prevention

As previously mentioned, a strong rotator cuff is the best defense against tendonitis. There are a few other common sense measures that you can take to help prevent the condition. First, always warm up your shoulder area before sport or exercise. Second, don’t place any uneccessary strain or weight on your shoulder.