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Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

Getting on-top of shoulder pain and getting back to your goals

Rotator cuff tendinopathy is one of the most common sources of shoulder pain seen across a variety of different ages. It is a shoulder condition characterised by damage and disorganisation of one or more of the rotator cuff tendons. Whilst tendons are a relatively strong structure designed to withstand high repetitive loading, when a load becomes too much the tendon can sustain micro tears. Although the body has natural healing mechanisms, if the load is continued these tears can exceed the rate of repair.

Rotator cuff tendinopathy is generally associated with repetitive overuse – such as repetitive above head movements at the gym, work or during activities of daily living. A sudden increase in loading, such as increasing training for an event or increasing load and frequency of going to the gym is a common cause of rotator cuff tendinopathy. This condition can occur at any age, however is most commonly seen between the ages of 40-60. It is also common among athletes involved in throwing sports such as baseball, swimming and racquet sports such as tennis.

Symptoms for rotator cuff tendinopathy are generally associated with pain during arm movement above the head, heavy lifting, using the arm in front of the body and at night time when sleeping on the affected shoulder. Symptoms develop over a period of time and progressively become worse with specific activity aggravating the tendon. Pain can start as a dull ache in the shoulder and develop into a sharper pain. Weakness and muscle wasting of the rotator cuff muscles may also become obvious.

Advice for anyone experiencing these symptoms

  • Modify/ Avoid aggravating movements – you can’t expect something to change if you continue doing the same thing over and over. You want to reduce the load through the rotator cuff tendon and allow the tendon to heal and strengthen.
  • Diagnosis – A thorough examination and assessment of the shoulder can identify the cause of the symptoms and develop the best treatment approach.
  • Best results for shoulder tendinopathy are associated with early diagnosis and intervention. Because tendinopathy is a non-inflammatory degenerative condition it is best treated with functional rehabilitation.