What Is Infraspinatus Tendinopathy?
The infraspinatus tendon is one of the four tendons that together form the rotator cuff with the other three tendons being the supraspinatus, teres major, and teres minor tendons. The infraspinatus tendon is located below the supraspinatus tendon in the lower part of the shoulder blade. The function of the infraspinatus tendon is to turn the arm outwards when the elbow is bent perpendicular to the floor. Infraspinatus Tendinopathy is a condition in which there is an injury to the infraspinatus tendon as a result of overuse or a direct trauma to the shoulder area.
The main presenting features of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy is pain with moving the arm outwards, lifting the arm up above shoulder level as if when waving at someone, and reduced range of motion of the shoulder overall as a result of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.
What Causes Infraspinatus Tendinopathy?
The root cause of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy is overuse and degeneration of the tendons as a result of aging. Athletes who use their shoulder for playing like tennis player, baseball players, and swimmers are all at risk for developing Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.
Also, individual who work in the construction sector and lift a lot of heavy objects day in and day out also are at risk for developing Infraspinatus Tendinopathy. This condition can occur gradually over time or can occur suddenly due to an injury to the rotator cuff. Gradual degeneration of the tendon as a result of the tendon getting weak is yet another cause for Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.
What Are The Symptoms Of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy?
The primary presenting feature of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy is pain, stiffness, and weakness of the shoulder. There is worsening of pain with use of the shoulder or the affected tendon such as when raising the arm above shoulder level.
The pain may get worse at night and as soon as the individual gets up in the morning. The area around the shoulder blade may be tender to palpation, erythematous, or swollen if there is inflammation present along with Infraspinatus Tendinopathy. There may also be feeling of crepitus when moving the shoulder as a result of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.
How Is Infraspinatus Tendinopathy Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Infraspinatus Tendinopathy, the physician will first take a detailed history of the patient in which he or she will ask about the patient’s occupation or whether the individual partakes in any competitive sports which requires prolonged use of the shoulders.
Once a history is obtained, then a thorough physical examination of the patient will be conducted where the physician will inspect the shoulder to look for any areas of swelling, warmth, redness or inflammation.
A range of motion of the shoulder will then be done to check whether there is any pain felt with moving the shoulder and if there is any reduction in the range of motion of the shoulder.
Additionally, advanced radiological studies in the form of MRI and CT scans of the shoulder may be done to look for any evidence of tear of the tendon and the extent of the injury. All these above tests will confirm the diagnosis of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.
How Is Infraspinatus Tendinopathy Treated?
In majority of the cases, conservative approach is the front line treatment for Infraspinatus Tendinopathy. This can be done at home and does not require any outpatient evaluation. Some of the steps that can be taken to treat Infraspinatus Tendinopathy are:
Rest: Complete rest for at least a period of two weeks following the diagnosis and avoid any activity with the affected arm which may aggravate the symptoms.
Ice Pack: The patient can apply icepacks for 10-15 minutes two to three times a day to calm down the inflammation and swelling and allow the injured tendon to heal. This treatment can be continued till the time the symptoms start to fade away of Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.
NSAIDS: Pain medications in the form of NSAIDs like Tylenol or ibuprofen may be taken for pain relief will be prescribed to relieve the pain and calm down the inflammation
Exercises: Once the symptoms are resolved, gentle range of motion exercises and stretching can be done to prevent any stiffness of the arm because of lack of use of the injured arm due to Infraspinatus Tendinopathy.