Rotator Cuff Tendonitis Overview
The rotator cuff is an important structure of the shoulder composed of four muscle-tendon units. The rotator cuff covers the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) and controls arm elevation and rotation. The muscle-tendon units work in unison with the deltoid muscle to provide shoulder strength and motion and are especially important when the joint is performing overhead movements. With the repetitive overhead motions involved with many athletic activities, patients may develop inflammation and rotator cuff tendonitis. Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area orthopedic shoulder specialist, Dr. Mark Getelman is an expert at diagnosing and treating rotator cuff tendonitis, the mildest form of a rotator cuff injury, so patients can return to the athletic activities they enjoy.
Rotator cuff tendonitis occurs gradually in many patients as the rotator cuff muscle-tendon units become inflamed from repetitive overuse. Athletes involved in sports that require overhead motions, such as swimmers, baseball players and tennis or volleyball players, are at an elevated risk of this rotator cuff injury. As the muscle or tendon begins to fray from overuse, patients experience the painful symptoms associated with this condition. Even though this injury is mild, tendonitis is often associated subacromial shoulder impingement that can lead to additional shoulder injury and rotator cuff tears if left untreated.
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis Symptoms
Common symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis include:
- Pain and swelling in the front of the shoulder joint
- Pain and swelling on the side of the arm
- Pain when raising and lowering the arm
- Loss of joint mobility and strength
- A clicking sound when raising the arm
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis Diagnosis
Dr. Getelman will diagnose this form of shoulder tendonitis after a thorough physical examination. During the examination, he will determine a patient’s overall pain level and range of motion by moving the affected arm in various directions. He may also test the affected arm’s strength by having the patient push on his palm. A series of x-rays and an MRI may be performed to rule out other injuries to the shoulder joint and to confirm the diagnosis.