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Physical Therapy For Shoulder Tendinosis | Sustained Fitness & PT

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Have you ever experienced that persistent, throbbing ache in your shoulder that just won’t let up? If you have, you’re not alone in the battle against shoulder tendinosis. This troublesome condition can disrupt your life, making simple tasks a daunting challenge. From reaching for a high shelf to getting a good night’s sleep, the pain can be relentless.

But here’s the silver lining: relief is closer than you think. In this blog post, we’re delving deep into the world of physical therapy for shoulder tendinosis. We’ll demystify this common yet often misunderstood ailment, providing insights into effective strategies, targeted exercises, and expert guidance. Say goodbye to persistent pain and frustration. Join us on a journey toward sustained fitness and a life free from shoulder tendinosis’s grip.

What is Shoulder Tendinosis? 

Shoulder tendinosis, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy, is a chronic condition affecting the tendons of the shoulder, specifically those of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff comprises a group of four tendons and associated muscles crucial for shoulder joint stability and movement.

Over time, these tendons can undergo degeneration and damage, leading to tendinosis. Unlike tendonitis, which involves inflammation of the tendon, tendinosis primarily involves structural changes within the tendon itself. Common symptoms include gradually developing shoulder pain, weakness, limited range of motion, and stiffness.

 Diagnosis typically involves physical examination and imaging, with treatment options ranging from rest and physical therapy in East Boston MA to more advanced interventions like injections or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. Early consultation with a healthcare provider is vital to effectively manage shoulder tendinosis and prevent further deterioration.

Symptoms of Shoulder Tendinosis 

Tendinosis shoulder symptoms, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy, may exhibit varying degrees of severity, but typically encompass the following manifestations:

Pain 

Pain associated with shoulder tendinosis, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy, can be a significant and often bothersome symptom. The pain experienced in this condition typically has several characteristics:

Gradual Onset

 Shoulder tendinosis pain usually develops slowly over time rather than suddenly. It may start as a mild discomfort and progressively worsen.

Deep and Aching

 The pain is often described as deep and aching, and it tends to be localized within the shoulder joint itself. This deep-seated discomfort is a hallmark of tendinosis as it typically involves structural changes in the tendon rather than inflammation.

Worsened by Activities

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 Pain is often exacerbated by specific activities that involve using the shoulder, especially those that require overhead motion or lifting. Everyday tasks such as reaching for objects or lifting items can become painful.

Shoulder weakness 

Weakness in the shoulder is a common symptom associated with shoulder tendinosis, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy. This weakness occurs due to the structural changes and degeneration of the tendons in the rotator cuff, which play a critical role in stabilizing and facilitating the movement of the shoulder joint. Here’s how shoulder weakness can manifest in shoulder tendinosis:

Difficulty Lifting Objects

Individuals with shoulder tendinosis may find it challenging to lift objects, particularly those that require the use of the shoulder muscles. This can affect daily activities such as carrying groceries or lifting a suitcase.

Reduced Arm Strength

 Weakness in the affected shoulder can lead to a noticeable reduction in arm strength. You may struggle to perform tasks that require arm strength, such as lifting weights or performing overhead movements.

Decreased Grip Strength

 Weakness in the shoulder can also translate to decreased grip strength in the hand on the affected side. This can make it harder to grasp and hold onto objects securely.

Stiffness 

Stiffness is a common symptom associated with shoulder tendinosis, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy. The stiffness typically arises due to the structural changes and degeneration of the tendons in the rotator cuff, which can limit the range of motion and flexibility of the shoulder joint. Here’s how stiffness can manifest in shoulder tendinosis:

Limited Range of Motion

 One of the most noticeable effects of shoulder tendinosis is a restricted range of motion in the affected shoulder. You may find it difficult to perform movements that involve lifting your arm, reaching overhead, or rotating your shoulder.

Difficulty with Everyday Tasks

 Stiffness can interfere with everyday tasks such as getting dressed, combing your hair, or reaching for objects on high shelves. These activities may become more challenging and uncomfortable.

Morning Stiffness

 Many individuals with shoulder tendinosis experience increased stiffness in the morning or after periods of inactivity. This can be especially pronounced upon waking up, and it may take some time for the shoulder to “warm up” and regain mobility.

Tenderness 

What is tendinosis of the shoulder? Shoulder tendinosis is a condition frequently characterized by tenderness, wherein the affected area becomes sensitive and painful to touch, particularly around the damaged tendon. This tenderness can serve as a crucial indicator during clinical examinations, aiding healthcare professionals in diagnosing the condition. Managing tenderness is an essential aspect of treatment to alleviate discomfort and enhance the patient’s overall shoulder function.

Swelling and inflammation 

Swelling and inflammation are typically not prominent features of shoulder tendinosis, which is often characterized by structural changes and degeneration of the tendons without significant inflammation. However, it’s important to distinguish between tendinosis and other shoulder conditions that can involve inflammation and swelling, such as rotator cuff tendonitis or bursitis. These conditions share similarities but have distinct characteristics:

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Tendonitis involves inflammation of the tendons. In the case of the rotator cuff, it’s called rotator cuff tendonitis. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, and sometimes warmth around the affected area. Inflammation can be a significant component of this condition.

Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa sac, a fluid-filled sac that cushions and lubricates the joint. It can cause swelling, pain, and tenderness in the shoulder area.

Crepitus 

Crepitus is a term used to describe a grinding, popping, or crackling sensation or sound that can be felt or heard when a joint is moved. In the context of shoulder tendinosis, crepitus can sometimes be experienced, but it’s important to understand its underlying causes and significance:

Tendon Degeneration

Crepitus in the shoulder associated with tendinosis is often related to structural changes in the tendons. As the tendons degenerate and develop abnormalities, they may not move smoothly within the joint. This can lead to friction and the sensation of crepitus when you move your shoulder.

Presence of Bone Spurs

In some cases of shoulder tendinosis, the degeneration of the tendons can lead to the development of bone spurs (also known as osteophytes) in the shoulder joint. These bony growths can rub against other structures in the joint, causing crepitus.

Muscle Imbalances

Weakness in the muscles surrounding the shoulder due to tendinosis can alter the mechanics of the joint. This can lead to abnormal movements and the perception of crepitus.

Joint Changes

Over time, tendinosis can contribute to changes in the joint’s anatomy and function. These alterations can result in crepitus during shoulder movements.

Limited range of motion 

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Limited range of motion is a common symptom of shoulder tendinosis, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy. This condition can restrict the normal movements of the shoulder joint due to the structural changes and degeneration of the tendons within the rotator cuff. Here’s how a limited range of motion can manifest in shoulder tendinosis:

Reduced Ability to Rotate the Shoulder

Tendinosis can restrict the ability to rotate your shoulder, making tasks that involve twisting or turning the arm more difficult.

Muscle Tightness

The muscles surrounding the shoulder may become tense and tight in response to the limited range of motion.

Treatment for limited range of motion in shoulder tendinosis typically involves a combination of approaches, including:

Physical Therapy

 Physical therapists can design exercises and stretches to improve shoulder mobility and flexibility.

Heat and Ice

Applying heat or ice to the shoulder can help alleviate stiffness and reduce discomfort.

Shoulder Tendinosis Treatment in Physical Therapy   

How to treat tendinosis in the shoulder? Physical therapy stands out as a personalized roadmap to recovery, with skilled therapists creating tailored treatment plans that encompass a range of exercises, from gentle mobility exercises to targeted strengthening routines, helping patients regain shoulder function and alleviate discomfort.

How To Prevent Shoulder Tendinosis? 

Preventing shoulder tendinosis, also known as rotator cuff tendinosis or rotator cuff tendinopathy, involves adopting certain lifestyle habits and practices to minimize the risk of developing this condition, especially if you are prone to activities or factors that can contribute to it. Here are some steps to help prevent shoulder tendinosis:

Proper Warm-Up and Stretching

Before engaging in physical activities or exercise routines that involve the shoulder, it’s essential to warm up adequately. Gentle shoulder stretches can help improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

Gradual Progression

When starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your workouts, progress gradually. Overloading the shoulder with excessive weight or repetitive movements too quickly can increase the risk of tendinosis.

Conclusion 

Your shoulder tendinosis journey doesn’t have to be a lifelong struggle. With the right knowledge, exercises, and professional guidance, you can regain control over your shoulder’s health and bid farewell to that nagging pain. At Sustained Fitness & PT, we’re committed to supporting you on this path to recovery.

Remember, healing takes time and dedication. Consistency is key. So, whether you’re looking to prevent shoulder tendinosis or seeking relief from its grasp, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert team. Together, we’ll work towards a pain-free, mobile, and active life, allowing you to embrace every day with confidence and comfort. Your journey to sustained fitness starts here.

FAQs

Can physical therapy be beneficial for shoulder tendonitis? 

Yes, physical therapy can be highly beneficial for shoulder tendonitis. Physical therapists can provide targeted exercises, manual therapy, and education on proper techniques to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and strengthen the shoulder, facilitating recovery and preventing future issues.

Which exercises are suitable for managing shoulder tendinosis?

Suitable exercises for managing shoulder tendinosis include:

Isometric Exercises

 Isometric shoulder exercises, such as wall push help strengthen the shoulder without excessive movement, reducing stress on the tendons.

Eccentric Exercises

 Controlled eccentric movements, like gentle lowering of weights, can promote tendon healing and muscle balance.

Range of Motion Exercises

 Gentle stretching and range of motion exercises can improve shoulder flexibility and reduce stiffness, aiding in recovery.

What leads to the development of shoulder tendonitis?

Shoulder tendonitis often develops due to:

Overuse or Repetitive Movements

 Frequent, repetitive shoulder motions, such as those seen in sports or certain occupations, can strain the tendons over time.

Poor Posture

 Incorrect posture or ergonomics can place excessive stress on the shoulder tendons, leading to inflammation.

Aging

 Natural wear and tear on tendons as we age can make them more susceptible to injury and tendonitis.

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AUTHOR

Dr. Adam Babcock PT, DPT

Sustained Fitness and PT

"We Help Active Adults Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active, Get Back To What They Love To Do, and Do It For Decades"