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Supraspinatus (Rotator Cuff) Tendinitis/Tear

Torn supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a term given to four main tendons that wrap around the shoulder joint, the supraspinatus tendon being the tendon coming off the shoulder blade in the top portion.

Rotator cuff tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) and tears often occur gradually, though many are associated with sports injuries (especially baseball and swimming), falls on the shoulder, or an added injury due to shoulder dislocation in elderly folk. If you've ever been diagnosed with bursitis, it's possible the supraspinatus tendon is the true source of your pain, not the shoulder bursa. In this case, the pain does not resolve with typically prescribed anti-inflammatory medications.

Symptoms of Chronic Supraspinatus Tear

If a tear or rupture in your rotator cuff tendon occurs over time you may experience the following symptoms.

Supporting your arm while you sleep can reduce the tear on your rotator cuff and the pain during the night.
  • Pain in the shoulder when doing a repetitive shoulder activity that eventually becomes noticeable when the shoulder is at rest.
  • Atrophy or weakening of the tendons and muscles in the rotator cuff.
  • Pain that starts as a dull ache and progresses to a radiating pain from the shoulder, especially when sleeping.
  • Sudden pain when reaching above the head or bringing the arm out to the side.
  • Muscle spasm and weakness in the arm and shoulder area with limited range of motion.
  • A crackling sensation may be felt as the condition worsens.

Supraspinatus Tendon Tear Risk Factors

Repetitive overhead movements without properly warming up (lifting object overhead for work, chopping wood, swinging a hammer, participating in sports such as volleyball, baseball, tennis and rowing) can cause the supraspinatus tendon to weaken over time making it more prone to a tear, tear, and rupture.

Stretching to warm up properly before activity can help reduce the risk of a rotator cuff tear.

Because supraspinatus tendon injuries are often a result of overuse, people over 40 are at greater risk of degeneration and rotator cuff tears due to the body's natural weakening of the soft tissue over time.

Slouching your neck and shoulders forward can also cause excess stress on your supraspinatus tendon because the space for your tendon between the bones in your shoulder become smaller. This can lead to rotator cuff tendons becoming pinched by the bones in your shoulder.

Lack of strength to support the glenohumeral joint of your rotator cuff leads to a greater risk of incorrect movements. This can cause wear and tear on a tendon and weakening over time.

Tendon Treatments

When treating a strained supraspinatus tendon, rest the area (this can be difficult to do, as many common daily activities work this tendon), apply cold compression for 10-20 minutes at a time for at least 3 times a day. Do this to the injured area for the first day up to 3 days. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy may be used after the acute swelling is improved. Cold compression therapy will reduce initial inflammation and swelling and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy increases blood flow through the area to speed the healing process. The Inferno Wrap® will stimulate blood flow and minimize the build up of scar tissue around the tendon during the healing process, helping the tendon heal more quickly.

 
 
 

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