During the summer, many people play recreational sports, including golf and tennis. Sometimes, this comes with overuse, and can lead to shoulder pain. The most common source of shoulder pain in athletes is rotator cuff tendonitis, or bursitis. At Rothman Institute, we don’t want shoulder pain to disrupt your ability to enjoy your summer vacations. We want to educate you about this common condition and what you can do to address it.
What Is Rotator Cuff Tendonitis?
The rotator cuff is the group of small muscles that surround the shoulder joint and help keep the ball centered in the socket with use. They live underneath the big muscle groups of the shoulder, the deltoid, pectoralis, and latissimus. The muscles attach to the bone through tendons, and it is common for these tendons to get strained or irritated with overuse. The bursa is the tissue that surrounds the tendon to keep it lubricated, and it can get irritated as well.
Pain from rotator cuff tendonitis commonly occurs on the side of the arm, and sometimes goes to the front or the back. It is worse with using the arm overhead, and reaching or rotating the shoulder. In addition, pain can occur at night, especially lying on that arm.
What Can You Do About Bursitis?
Treatment for rotator cuff tendonitis initially can include a short period of rest. In addition, over the counter anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen), can be taken for 1-2 weeks. Usually a sling is discouraged to be sure stiffness in the shoulder does not develop.
There are several keys to preventing tendonitis. If the activity seems like too much, it probably is! Gradually increasing activity levels are important to prevent overuse injuries. Gentle stretching and warmup both before and after activity help loosen the muscles and tendons and prevent stress in the area. In addition, strengthening the small rotator cuff muscles with light rotation exercises or rubber bands (Therabands) will help keep them balanced with the large muscle groups of the shoulder.
If pain in the shoulder persists, medical evaluation is encouraged. This can help confirm the diagnosis. Additional treatments can be considered for persistent cases, including a course of formal physical therapy to improve the mechanics and strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder. A cortisone injection can also be given to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. If you are suffering significant pain at night or weakness with use, a more significant tear may be present.
Before beginning any of these treatment options, it is important to talk with a doctor. She or he can provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your condition and then direct you to the treatment option that will best fit your particular situation.
If you are experiencing shoulder pain that you may be the result of rotator cuff tendonitis, turn to the doctors at Rothman Institute for help. Our shoulder and elbow specialists have focused on this particular area of orthopaedics in their study and practice, giving them a unique level of experience with both diagnosis and treatment of shoulder conditions like yours.
If you would like to learn more about Rothman Institute or schedule an appointment with one of our shoulder and elbow specialists, please contact us today by calling 1.800.321.9999.