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How is rotator cuff tendonitis treated ?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions
Shoulder Pain:

I am 50, 5'6" (168 cm), 76 kilos (167 lbs) - with a clear medical history.

I am 'reasonably' active. I resumed badminton after a break and expected some strain in the body. I go to the gym for a weight workout after the badminton.

I experienced pain towards the top centre of the right shoulder. It does not stop me from badminton or the gym (I have reduced the intensity and frequency of the workout). I sleep on my right side predominantly, and find the pain is higher when waken. After 4 weeks the morning pain has reduced.

I also have pain when I try to push the shoulder up or forward.

I need advise what kind of doctor to consult and what the prognosis or treatment might be.

Thank You.
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in TMJ
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 31 minutes later

Thanks for posting your query.

From the symptoms that you have described it can be rotator cuff tendonitis or shoulder impingement syndrome which causes irritation and inflammation of the rotator cuff and the bursa when doing overhead activity and hence pain.

Usually, there is enough room between the acromion and the rotator cuff so that the tendons slide easily underneath the acromion as the arm is raised. But each time the arm is raised, there is a bit of rubbing or pinching on the tendons and the bursa. With overuse, this can cause irritation and swelling of the bursa.

There are a group of muscles and tendons which form a covering around the head of your upper arm bone and attach it to your shoulder blade. This group is collectively called the rotator cuff muscles and from your symptoms the possibility of rotator cuff tendonitis is more likely.

This is found in people who do activities like swimming, tennis, baseball, badminton, paper hanging, construction, or painting.

It causes local swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder and initially it presents as minor pain but gradually it causes severe pain and loss of motion.

You need to get an MRI scan done which is a more sensitive test for soft tissue and muscular injuries. An orthopedician is the best person to be consulted.

Here are some general treatment measures which you can follow:
1)     Provide complete rest and avoid overhead activities.
2)     Apply cold compresses and take some anti inflammatory pain killer after consulting your doctor.

If the symptoms are severe then after confirming the diagnosis by MRI, you may need steroid injections or surgical arthroscopic technique (kept as last resort).

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries. Wishing you good health.

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