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Rotator Cuff Tendinitis


Rotator cuff tendinitis

is inflammation of the tendons in your shoulder joint. A tendon is a cord of tough tissue that connects your muscles to your bones. The rotator cuff is made up of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place.

Shoulder Anatomy

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling in your shoulder, especially when you lift your arm over your head
  • Pain that is worse after you sleep on the affected shoulder
  • Pain can become worse and you may have pain even when you are resting
  • Shoulder and arm weakness

Call your doctor or orthopedist if:

  • You have sudden shortness of breath or chest pain.
  • Any part of your arm is numb, tingly, cold, blue, or pale.
  • You have pain and swelling in your shoulder even after you take pain medicine.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • Your symptoms are not getting better or are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


may include any of the following:

  • Medicines such as steroids or NSAIDs may be used to reduce swelling. This can help relieve pain. Steroids may be injected into the rotator cuff area. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
  • Surgery may be needed if the pain and tightening in your shoulder do not go away. This may also be done if pain worsens or is so severe that it affects your daily activities. During surgery, your healthcare provider may remove bone spurs and inflamed tissue around the shoulder.
  • Physical therapy can help you improve movement and strength, and decrease pain. A physical therapist will teach you safe exercises. The exercises may help you move your shoulder normally again and strengthen your rotator cuff. You may learn changes to make to your daily activities that will help decrease stress on your tendons.

Care for your rotator cuff tendinitis at home:

  • Rest as directed. Limit activity on your affected shoulder to decrease stress on the tendon. This may help prevent further damage, decrease pain, and promote healing.
  • Apply ice on your shoulder area. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Keep your shoulder in the correct position so it will heal faster. This may be done by increasing the height of armrests while you work, drive, and sit. Try not to sleep on the side of your injured shoulder. If you are a woman, wear a sports bra so that the straps are closer to your neck. This may help decrease stress in the affected shoulder.
    Shoulder Sling

Follow up with your doctor or orthopedist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.