Shoulder Tendonitis

What is shoulder tendonitis?

Shoulder tendonitis is an inflammation of your rotator cuff or biceps tendon. Your rotator cuff consists of the muscles and tendons in your shoulder. They connect your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade.

Your injury may range from mild to severe inflammation of most of your rotator cuff. When your rotator cuff tendon gets inflamed and thickened, it is also called rotator cuff tendonitis. Your rotator cuff tendon may get trapped under the top bone of your shoulder (acromion). It is formed by a part of your shoulder blade (the scapula).

Front view of shoulder joint showing ligaments, muscles and tendons.

What are the symptoms of shoulder tendonitis?

Symptoms may be a bit different for each person. Symptoms may include:

  • Inability to hold your arm in certain positions
  • Shoulder pain or soreness
  • Pain at night

The symptoms of shoulder tendonitis may seem like other conditions or health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is shoulder tendonitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will take a full health history and do a physical exam. You may also need diagnostic tests such as:

  • X-ray. Invisible electromagnetic energy beams produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Ultrasonography. High-frequency sound waves create an image of some part of the inside of your body.
  • MRI. Large magnets and a computer make detailed images of organs and structures in your body.

How is shoulder tendonitis treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment may include:

  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Corticosteroid shot (injection)
  • Surgery (for severe injuries or tears)
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