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Rotator Cuff Tendonitis--You Do Not Have to Shoulder the Pain

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When the tendons around the shoulder become inflamed, swollen, or irritated, it can create a condition known as rotator cuff tendonitis. This is also known as bursitis. It is a common condition that affects both men and women of any age. Fortunately, it can be easily treated at home.

The main cause for rotator cuff tendonitis (RCT) stems from a weakness in the joint. This is something with which people can be born, presenting with a somewhat hooked acromion that potentially sets them up for RCT. It is also commonly found in those who participate in sports. Excessive training or playing vigorously for extended periods of time can cause extra strain on the shoulder. Certain injuries can also contribute to this condition. A weakened rotator cuff will cause the humerus to move up and pinch the cuff. This causes the bursa, which is a cushion between the rotator cuff and the acromion/humerus, to become inflamed.

The symptoms of RCT are usually gradual in nature. You may notice slight pain around the shoulder. The pain intensifies with any activity that is done overhead, such as reaching up to grab something or throwing something above your shoulder level. The pain will most likely be noticeable during the activity and shortly thereafter. Your shoulder may begin to feel weak and such weakness may become more pronounced when you attempt an overhead movement or a pushing movement.

It is not uncommon to hear or feel a mild cracking or popping sensation in the shoulder, either, and sleeping on it may be difficult due to the inflammation and pain. The area around your shoulder might also feel warm, as if it is burning.

The most obvious step in the treatment of this condition is to stop doing the activity that exacerbates it. Refrain from these activities until the tendonitis has completely healed, otherwise, you can just make it worse and that much more difficult to heal.

The usual methodology of rest, ice, compression, and elevation are encouraged until the pain diminishes. If necessary, you may want to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. When you are ready, get back into your activities on a gradual basis. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your doctor.

A great way to prevent rotator cuff tendonitis is to work on strengthening it through exercises. Use a dumbbell to do an above-the-head press. Do some lateral dumbbell raises, an upright row, or the shoulder machine press. It is not necessary to use heavy weights for these. In fact, it is advised to use lighter weights instead.

As always the standard advice, frequently ignored, is to warm up before engaging in any exercises or activities and avoid putting unnecessary weight on the shoulder area. (Yes, for many women, this means avoiding the 50-pound purse slung over the shoulder that has everything in it but the kitchen sink!)

(Information for this article was found at http://www.itendonitis.com/rotator-cuff-tendonitis.html)

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Pat - perfect answer. I'd never had this before and the anti-inflammatory, ice and rest did the trick. I'm almost 100% now.

March 11, 2010 - 10:15am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Anon - I'm SO GLAD to hear that!!!! Thank you so much for writing back and letting me know. I hope you will be 100% very soon, and I would also try to be careful for the next few weeks as your tissues will be tender for a while. All the best, Pat

March 11, 2010 - 5:21pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Anon - Generally it's recommended trying the following during the initial, acute stages of bursitis:
* Resting the affected area
* Icing the painful area
* Taking anti-inflammatory medications
* Protecting the area from trauma
If the pain persists after taking those measures then it would be advisable to see a physician. The doctor may use remedies such as cortisone injections to provide relief. You can learn more here:

Does this answer your question? I've personally had bursitis and it's very painful. How long have you been dealing with the pain? Have you tried any of the recommendations above? Pat

March 10, 2010 - 5:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

How long should you wait before seeing a doctor if the pain doesn't go away?

March 5, 2010 - 8:39am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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