Tendonitis of your shoulder is an inflammation of the rotator cuff or biceps tendon. 

The rotator cuff consists of the muscles and tendons in the shoulder. They connect the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade.

An injury may range from mild inflammation to severe inflammation of most of the rotator cuff. When rotator cuff tendon becomes inflamed and thickened, it is also called rotator cuff tendonitis.

The rotator cuff tendon may get trapped under the roof of the shoulder. This is formed by the acromion, a bony process of a the shoulder blade (scapula) and the outer part of the collarbone (clavicle).

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Shoulder tendonitis is usually the result of a tendon being pinched by surrounding structures. Shoulder tendonitis often happens in certain sports that require your arm to move over your head repeatedly. Such sports include baseball, weightlifting, volleyball, racket sports, and certain swimming strokes.

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for shoulder tendonitis may include:

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


  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Corticosteroid injection
  • Surgery (for severe injuries)

Traditional methods for reducing tendinitis in the shoulder are to

  1. Decrease the activity that is causing the pain. If an overhead athlete is doing a lot of throwing it is time to make some adjustments to the throwing motion or to the amount of time the thrower is doing. Same for gardening, weight lifting, gymnastics, painting, or any other repetitive activity with the shoulder.
  2. Rest is critical, but not so much that you shoulder becomes stiff in addition to painful. Foing the proper movements that will help restore the motion and decrease inflammation.
  3. Anti-inflammatory medication such as NSAIDs and (in more extreme cases) steroid injections are used to decrease inflammation of the joint complex.
  4. Physical Therapy -Your physical therapist will then educate you on proper exercises/activities to keep these structures healthy, functional, and pain-free.
    The therapist will progress the patient into active strengthening exercises. The key component of these strengthening activities are to perform them in an appropriate range. Your therapist will be able to recommend how far you go and how much you push when performing your exercises. That way you get the motion/strength you need, but not at the sake of injuring your shoulder.
  5. Ice is helpful as it decreases inflammation externally for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. It is good to use ice following a session of activity.