What Are The Best Treatments For Shoulder Tendonitis?

Shoulder Tendonitis

Shoulder tendonitis is an inflammation of the rotator cuff or biceps tendon. The muscles and tendons in your shoulder form the rotator cuff. They run from the top of your upper arm bone to the bottom of your shoulder blade.

The majority of your rotator cuff may be inflamed, ranging from moderate to serious inflammation. Rotator cuff tendonitis occurs when the rotator cuff tendon becomes inflamed and thickened. Your rotator cuff tendon can become stuck underneath the roof of your shoulder, which is the highest point on your shoulder. This is referred to as the acromion. It is shaped by the scapula, which is a part of your shoulder blade.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Rotator cuff tendinitis symptoms tend to worsen over time. Symptoms can be relieved temporarily by rest, but they may later become chronic. Symptoms that extend beyond the elbow normally suggest a more serious issue.

Symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis include:

  • Swelling and pain in the front of your shoulder as well as the side of your arm
  • raising or lowering your arm causes pain
  • a clicking sound when raising your arm
  • stiffness
  • pain that causes you to wake from sleep
  • pain when reaching behind your back
  • a loss of mobility and strength in the affected arm

How is rotator cuff tendinitis diagnosed?

Your doctor will first examine your shoulder if you have signs of rotator cuff tendinitis. You’ll be examined to determine whether you’re experiencing discomfort or tenderness. Your doctor will also ask you to raise your arm in different directions to assess your range of motion.

Your doctor can even ask you to push against their hand to assess the strength of your shoulder joint. They can also test your neck for conditions that cause symptoms similar to rotator cuff tendinitis, such as a pinched nerve or arthritis.

To confirm the diagnosis of rotator cuff tendinitis and rule out any other causes of your symptoms, your doctor can order imaging tests. An X-ray may be needed to determine whether or not you have a bone spur. An ultrasound or MRI scan of your rotator cuff may be ordered by your doctor to check for inflammation and signs of tearing.

What are my treatment options?

A complete medical history and physical examination will almost always result in a successful diagnosis. Changes on the arm bone where the rotator cuff muscles connect are often visible on X-rays, but an MRI is required for a definitive diagnosis. This test demonstrates the muscles clearly and indicates whether they are inflamed, injured, or torn.


As a cautious approach to treating rotator cuff tendonitis, follow the steps below:

  • Stop or drastically reduce any operation that requires shoulder usage at or above shoulder level.
  • Apply ice to the affected area.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce arm and shoulder pain.
  • Begin an exercise program to maintain flexibility.
  • Bear heavy objects with the affected arm and use shoulder-strap bags on the affected hand to avoid injury.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help in the early stages. However, to enable the inflammation to heal, it’s critical to limit repetitive activities and keep the elbow below shoulder level while using the arm.

Stretching while in a hot shower on a regular basis is also helpful. If shoulder pain worsens, a prescription-strength drug or a cortisone injection can be beneficial.

Injections of cortisone can be extremely helpful in the treatment of pain. Injections can be used in combination with a home workout routine for stability and strength, as well as activity adjustment and ice, if necessary. Heat, ice, ultrasound, and medicinal massage are several other pain-relieving options.

The typical recovery period for a young patient under the age of 30 with a first-time episode of rotator cuff tendonitis who is treated immediately with the above treatment is two to four weeks. Rotator cuff tendonitis can take months to heal for those with repeated episodes of tendonitis and certain risk factors, and in rare cases, surgery may be required.


If symptoms continue, surgery to remove an acromion spur may increase the amount of space available for the inflamed tendon, preventing further fraying or rupture. Surgical repair can be needed if an MRI reveals a complete muscle injury.

Recurrent rotator cuff tendonitis (bursitis) is occasionally treated with surgery:

  • Remove a prominence or spur on the acromion’s underside.
  • Bursal tissue that is excessively inflamed, thickened, and fibrotic should be removed.
  • Inspect the tendons, clean them up, and often patch a tear.

These procedures are often performed in tandem. This can be performed either open or arthroscopically, with an early recovery program beginning one or two days after surgery and progressing to a more intensive program between two and five weeks. The patient’s observations at surgery, surgical procedure, and rate of healing all influence the start and progression of these exercises.

Are You Looking for Shoulder Pain Relief? 

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical shoulder pain relief and recovery therapies.  We pride ourselves on offering the best possible physical therapy available and going above and beyond for our patients. Physical therapy, without the need for harmful drugs or unnecessary surgery, is a safe, simple and convenient way to find relief from shoulder pain. A variety of problems resulting in shoulder pain have been treated by our physical therapists, with patients experiencing progress and relief after just a few short sessions, and even fewer! We will develop a specialized mix of physical therapy approaches to treat and alleviate your pain once we have identified the source of your shoulder pain. Gentle manual therapy helps to restore natural joint mobility, relieve constraints on soft tissue, and facilitate circulation while restoring strength and the proper sequence of muscle activation around the shoulder joint through precise therapeutic exercises. Finally, we teach you strategies to strengthen your power and to stop the recurrence of future shoulder problems. Don’t let your pain in your shoulder hinder your physical skills any longer! Our physical therapy practice in San Jose, CA, will give you the support you need to once again start living your regular life. To schedule your appointment and get started on your journey towards pain relief, contact Pace Physical Therapy today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!