Shoulder Tendinopathy

What is shoulder tendinopathy, and how is it treated?

What Is Shoulder Tendinopathy?

Shoulder tendinopathy is the term used to describe the full spectrum of shoulder tendon injuries. 

Other terms may also be used to identify the specific tendons that are injured in the shoulder. The tendons connect muscle to the bone.

For example, if your rotator cuff tendons are injured, then the term used is rotator cuff tendinopathy

There are also even more specific terms used to describe the various specific rotator cuff tendinopathies.

The following terms may be used depending on the specific tendon that is injured:

  • Supraspinatus tendinopathy
  • Subscapularis tendinopathy
  • Infraspinatus tendinopathy

Also under the umbrella of shoulder tendinopathy is bicipital tendinopathy. Theoretically, it refers to the tendon that connects the bicep muscle and the tendon that attaches itself inside the shoulder.

Another type of tendon problem that can occur within the shoulder is calcific tendinopathy. This term is used to describe where calcium (bone) has formed within the tendon.

Shoulder tendonitis used to be the common term to describe shoulder tendinopathy. However, shoulder tendonitis refers exclusively to an inflammation injury in the tendons.

This is a common first reaction of a tendon injury and part of the healing process. In fact, tendonitis is only present in a small percentage of shoulder tendinopathy patients.

What Causes Shoulder Tendinopathy?

Shoulder tendinopathy refers to tiny tears that occur in the tendon. These usually happen because of repeated trauma to the rotator cuff tendons rather than a specific one-off incident.

Poor scapulohumeral rhythm, referring to shoulder blade – shoulder movement, can also cause rotator cuff impingement. 

When the rotator cuff tendon repeatedly impacts against the acromion bone, the tendon can become inflamed and swollen.

What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Tendinopathy?

You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Clicking in your shoulder or shoulder pain when your arm is extended at shoulder height
  • Clicking or shoulder pain as you move your hand behind your head or back.
  • Shoulder and upper arm pain.
  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder or lifting with a straight arm.
  • Shoulder pain may even be present at rest as shoulder tendonitis worsens.

How Is Shoulder Tendinopathy Diagnosed?

The orthopedic specialists at OrthoNeuro can correctly diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain. Their diagnosis will be based on your medical history and some clinical tests.

Tests may include a physical exam and an ultrasound scan.

Shoulder Tendinopathy Treatment

The orthopedic surgeons and shoulder specialists at OrthoNeuro provide expert treatment options for shoulder problems. 

They offer compassionate and innovative patient care to address your specific needs. Treatments can be categorized into nonsurgical and surgical treatments.

Nonsurgical Treatment

In nearly all cases, the initial treatment is nonsurgical. It may include the following.


In some cases, the RICE method is all that’s needed to repair your shoulder. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Many minor shoulder problems end up worsening when patients don’t allow enough time to rest and recover.

Physical Therapy

The surgeons at OrthoNeuro incorporate physical therapy into shoulder treatment programs when it is needed.

Specific strengthening exercises and stretching can help restore range of motion and strengthen your shoulder, including the rotator cuff muscles.

In some cases, physical therapy can be combined with other nonsurgical treatments. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling. 

Additionally, if you need shoulder surgery, you will also need physical therapy afterward to maintain shoulder joint mobility and restore your strength and a full range of motion.

Surgical Treatment

Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder arthroscopy is a commonly performed minimally invasive procedure that treats many shoulder injuries.

Modern surgical techniques and equipment allow the Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeons at OrthoNeuro to perform shoulder surgeries that were once open procedures now through small incisions.

Small cameras and surgical instruments are placed within the shoulder so that your surgeon can repair damaged tendons or remove bone spurs through tiny incisions.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Shoulder Specialist Today!

If you have severe shoulder pain and stiffness that prevents you from moving your shoulder correctly, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Shoulder Specialists

“8 weeks after bad rotator cuff surgery and I am doing well thank you for the great service“