Could Your Shoulder Pain Be Tendinitis?
Rotator cuff tendinitis, also called shoulder impingement, is a common shoulder injury. The rotator cuff has several muscles and tendons that cover the shoulder joint. Together, the muscles and tendons help with stability, range of motion, and strength. With rotator cuff tendinitis, one or more of the tendons are inflamed, causing pain. In some cases, the bursa, a fluid-filled sack that cushions the joint, also becomes inflamed.
What causes tendinitis?
Rotator cuff tendinitis is a repetitive stress injury. Repetitive lifting overhead or swinging the arm just over the shoulder can cause shoulder impingement. This is a common occurrence with golfers, pitchers, volleyball players, skiers, and tennis players. Look for these 5 signs of rotator cuff tendinitis and seek medical help as soon as possible.
1. Tendinitis equals pain
With inflammation of the body comes pain, and rotator cuff tendinitis is no exception. Persons with the injury will feel dull pain and swelling during physical activity. Most persons report pain that starts on the outer arm that moves to the top of the shoulder. Others feel pain at the front of the shoulder that also moves to the top. The location of the pain can give an idea of the location of the impingement.
2. Poor sleep
A big sign that something is wrong could be linked to sleep patterns. Sleeping on the side can bring additional pressure on the affected tendons. This added pressure can cause persons to wake up from a deep sleep with pain. And even with a good night’s sleep, the result could be a morning filled with shoulder pain. If shoulder pain happens consistently after sleep, there could be tendinitis.
3. Pay attention to any clicking sounds
Shoulders should have a smooth motion and feeling when lifting the arm. If there is a constant clicking or catching sound, there could be a shoulder injury. Inflamed tendons can become caught between spaces or bones like the acromion. Test the shoulder by rotating clockwise and counterclockwise several times. If the clicking sound happens each time, with pain, there could be a tendinitis issue.
4. A little bit weaker
Over time, tendinitis can weaken the muscles that support the shoulder. Persons may recognize a difference in the strength of one shoulder compared to another. For instance, holding objects for long periods with the affected arm becomes more difficult. In some cases, the forearm and biceps need to compensate for the shoulder.
5. A painful reach
The shoulder helps with reaching overhead and behind the back. These actions, while complex, should not be painful. Look for pain when maximizing the shoulder’s range of motion. Typical examples are putting on a belt, reaching an overhead shelf, or reaching behind a car seat.
Does tendinitis equal surgery?
If these signs are consistent, see a doctor immediately. A doctor can assess the shoulder and confirm rotator cuff tendinitis or another shoulder injury. Most cases of rotator cuff tendinitis require no surgery since the tendons are not damaged. The doctor can then recommend conservative treatments like medication, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy. Steroid injections are also a viable, long-term option. Along with consistent rest, these steps should be enough to treat tendinitis.
Turning to minimally invasive surgery
Unfortunately, not all cases respond well to non-surgical treatment. After several months of unsuccessful treatment, a rotator cuff repair can help. An orthopedic surgeon will perform the procedure using a minimally invasive style. With an incision the size of a button, the surgeon inserts a small camera to view the damage. From there, the surgeon can perform an acromioplasty. By removing a bit of the acromion bone, the inflamed tendons have more breathing room. In some cases, the surgeon may also remove tissue and repair damaged tendons.
Treat your tendinitis today
Shoulder pain could be a result of rotator cuff tendinitis. Persons who perform repetitive overhead motions are at increased risk. Make sure to look out for the mentioned signs. From there, seek professional help for both conservative and surgical treatment.
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