A person grabbing their shoulder.

Shoulder Tendonitis

Shoulder tendonitis, also known as shoulder tendinitis, is the inflammation of the tendons to the shoulder joint when the edge of the shoulder blade rubs or pinches them.

The shoulder muscles comprise the rotator cuff muscles and the bicep. Collectively, these muscles facilitate arm movement and provide stability by anchoring the upper arm bone (humerus) within the shoulder socket (glenoid).

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

Individuals might choose to forgo seeking healthcare assistance for mild shoulder injuries. However, specific indications necessitate a consultation:

  • Experiencing worsening shoulder pain
  • Encountering increased difficulty in executing routine activities involving shoulder movements
  • Persistent shoulder pain causing disturbances in sleep patterns

Shoulder Tendinitis Symptoms & Causes

While shoulder tendonitis exhibits symptoms akin to other shoulder injuries, obtaining a precise medical diagnosis is crucial to confirm the specific injury. Nevertheless, recognizing the common symptoms associated with shoulder tendonitis is pivotal:

Experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in the shoulder, whether at rest or during movement
Encountering challenges in arm mobility or maintaining certain positions due to discomfort
Shoulder pain that causes difficulty sleeping

  • Experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in the shoulder, whether at rest or during movement
    Encountering challenges in arm mobility or maintaining certain positions due to discomfort
    Shoulder pain that causes difficulty sleeping


Shoulder tendinitis can manifest as either a chronic from prolonged overuse or an acute condition stemming from sudden and more severe injuries.

Chronic shoulder tendinitis primarily emerges due to the repetitive strain placed on the shoulder. Athletes in baseball, tennis, and swimming often face this injury, especially when employing improper techniques that strain the shoulder muscles. Additionally, it affects industrial workers engaged in overhead tasks and heavy lifting, making them susceptible to shoulder tendonitis.

Acute shoulder tendinitis can be triggered by traumatic incidents, such as falling onto an outstretched arm.

Treatment and Management for Shoulder Tendonitis

Addressing shoulder tendonitis involves comprehensive treatment and management strategies, particularly emphasizing conservative approaches for mild to moderate conditions.

To mitigate pain and inflammation, medical professionals commonly prescribe the following treatments:

  • Adequate rest
  • Shoulder support wrapping for pain alleviation
  • Application of ice packs to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Administration of pain medications
  • Consideration of cortisone injections for severe pain impacting sleep or physical therapy sessions

Furthermore, to maintain optimal shoulder mobility, prescribed physical therapy interventions typically encompass:

  • Passive range of motion exercises when there is no longer pain in resting
  • Implementation of stretching exercises to prevent stiffness and sustain a range of motion
  • Incorporation of strengthening exercises
  • Utilization of ultrasound therapy to facilitate healing processes

In severe injuries such as tearing, surgical intervention can be recommended by your healthcare provider.

Diagnostic Tests for Shoulder Tendonitis

As highlighted earlier, shoulder tendonitis often exhibits symptoms similar to other shoulder conditions. Specific diagnostic procedures for accurate identification and treatment planning are therefore essential.

  • X-Ray: Utilized as an imaging test, X-rays can ascertain the existence of arthritis or bone spurs within the shoulder joint.
  • MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides comprehensive shoulder images, delineating inflammation or potential tendon tears in detail.
  • Ultrasound: Employing Ultrasound (US), medical professionals can assess the dynamic movement of shoulder muscles and tendons.

How Long Should Shoulder Tendonitis Last?

Recovery timelines for shoulder tendonitis vary based on the severity of the condition and the efficacy of treatment and management strategies.

  • Mild shoulder tendonitis typically resolves within a month with appropriate treatment and management.
  • Moderate conditions necessitate a recovery period spanning 6 to 8 weeks.
  • However, the recovery trajectory may extend for certain individuals from 6 to 12 months, particularly in more prolonged or severe conditions.
An athletic man in jogging gear trying to relieve the pain in his shoulder by stretching.

How to Prevent Shoulder Tendonitis

Individuals, particularly workers and athletes susceptible to shoulder tendonitis, are advised to adopt proactive preventive measures. Recommended preventive strategies include:

  • Engaging in stretching and warm-up exercises before undertaking tasks involving shoulder movements
  • Incorporating shoulder conditioning exercises aimed at enhancing strength and reinforcing proper positioning
  • Adhering force and repetition limits with adequate rest periods
  • Immediate cessation of activity in the presence of unusual or atypical pain sensations

If you suspect that you may have a shoulder tendonitis, schedule an appointment with us today for an examination, diagnosis, and treatment.

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