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What Is Shoulder Tendinitis?

Shoulder Tendinitis, or Tendonitis, is a condition which arises when the rotator cuff – the thick tendons that attach the bone and muscle in the shoulder – become inflamed or irritated. Tendinitis causes pain and tenderness in the shoulder and can be accompanied by swelling, stiffness, and loss of mobility or strength in the arm.  Sometimes co-occurring with shoulder impingement syndrome or bursitis, shoulder tendinitis is a common complaint among athletes and weekend warriors, especially those over the age of 40.

man in pain after working out

Shoulder Tendinitis Causes and Risk Factors

Athletes who participate in baseball, swimming, golfing, tennis, and weight lifting are especially susceptible to tendinitis, but it can occur in a variety of situations:

  • Overuse of the shoulder, frequently seen in sports that involve overhead throwing, heavy lifting or occupations requiring overhead work, like painting
  • Using improper form when working, playing sports, or exercising
  • Poor posture, especially when leaning over a computer for extended periods of time

Rarely, a direct blow to the shoulder can lead to shoulder tendinitis

Symptoms of Shoulder Tendinitis

Most often described as a dull ache, symptoms include:

  • Pain in the shoulder
  • A “clicking” sensation in the shoulder
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Weakness in the arm or shoulder

When Surgery Is Necessary

Shoulder Tendinitis can be treated by applying ice packs every 15-20 minutes for 24 hours, resting the affected shoulder to avoid further irritation, taking non-steroid anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, and using a shoulder brace, sling or specially designed shoulder ice pack.

If the condition does not improve within a week or two, a visit to Dr. Madsen, the Best Orthopedic Surgeon in Dallas, will make the determination if a further treatment like physical therapy, injections or surgery is indicated. It is important to realize that if severe tendonitis is not treated, other conditions such as tendon rupture or tendinosis may develop. Tendinosis refers to degenerative changes in the tendon itself, paired with abnormal new blood vessel growth. Tendon rupture is a serious condition which could necessitate surgical intervention. It is not advisable to allow shoulder tendonitis to worsen by neglecting to obtain proper treatment as soon as possible.

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