What is Supraspinatus Tendinopathy?

The Supraspinatus Tendon lies in the subacromial space and is a part of the rotator cuff muscles. The supraspinatus muscle is located in the supraspinatus fossa behind the scapula. It is attached to the supraspinatus tendon which connects it to the shoulder joint. The function of the supraspinatus is to facilitate movement of the arm upwards. Supraspinatus Tendinopathy is a condition in which there is damage or injury to the supraspinatus tendon. Supraspinatus Tendinopathy is caused normally due to overuse of the arms such as when playing sports like tennis or badminton. Supraspinatus Tendinopathy can also be caused due to degeneration during the normal process of aging when all of the tendons of the rotator cuff start to become weak as the muscle becomes weaker. Supraspinatus Tendinopathy tends to cause pain in the arms and behind the shoulder especially when moving the arms upwards like when waving at someone. Conservative approach is the norm for treatment of Supraspinatus Tendinopathy by avoiding activities that may aggravate the condition and applying heat and cold and doing stretching exercises.

Supraspinatus Tendinopathy

What are the Causes of Supraspinatus Tendinopathy?

As stated above, overuse is the root cause for Supraspinatus Tendinopathy. People who play sports like tennis or badminton where they have to raise their arms frequently and repetitively above shoulder level are more at risk for developing Supraspinatus Tendinopathy. Supraspinatus Tendinopathy can also develop due to normal process of aging when the Infraspinatus muscle along with other muscle of the rotator cuff start to become weak and result in degeneration.

What are the Symptoms of Supraspinatus Tendinopathy?

The main symptom of Supraspinatus Tendinopathy is pain behind the shoulder, especially when lifting the arm up above the head or when lifting the arm to wave at someone. There is also reduced range of motion of the shoulder. Moving the shoulder for range of motion may also cause pain.

What is the Treatment for Supraspinatus Tendinopathy?

Conservative approach is the norm for treating Supraspinatus Tendinopathy. Treatment for Supraspinatus Tendinopathy begins with relieving pain and inflammation. This is done by use of pain medications and NSAIDs in the form of Tylenol and ibuprofen. This will help calm down the pain and inflammation. The next step towards treatment for Supraspinatus Tendinopathy is strengthening the muscles and tendons. As the tendons become weak it may become difficult to move the arm usefully. This can be done by strengthening exercises which the physical therapist will formulate for you. The physical therapist will also formulate exercises to improve range of motion of the shoulder which will get reduced due to Supraspinatus Tendinopathy. Once the strength starts to return and the arm can be used easily gradual return to activity is suggested. Coming to the recovery period or healing time for Supraspinatus Tendinopathy, it takes about a couple of weeks to four weeks for complete return to activities. It may take a further two weeks for return to sporting activities following Supraspinatus Tendinopathy.

Apart from these treatments there are also other forms of treatment that can be done for Supraspinatus Tendinopathy. These treatments are:

  • Cryotherapy to Treat Supraspinatus Tendinopathy: This therapy reduces blood flow and helps in reliving the inflammation and pain.
  • Electrical Stimulation for Treating Supraspinatus Tendinopathy: This is a part of the physical therapy and is useful for pain relief.
  • Acupuncture: This is also quite an effective way to ease inflammation and pain relief.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: May 5, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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