Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tendinitis: It’s Worth It!

Danh NgoShoulder PainLeave a Comment

With rest, the help of a skilled physical therapist, and the right exercises, rotator cuff tendinitis most often can be treated without further intervention.

Swimmer’s shoulder, bursitis, or impingement are just a few of the names sharing the same meaning: rotator cuff tendinitis. 

This inflammation of your shoulder joint tendons doesn’t discriminate against age or occupation. If you are repeatedly lifting your shoulder in sports or sleeping on your shoulder too often, rotator cuff tendinitis can affect you.

Is your shoulder stiff and causing you daily struggles in managing your pain? Do you feel a stubborn kink every way you turn? It’s not good to let these things sit stiff. You need a plan to get back into shape and physical therapy will help you get there safely.

There are a number of ways you could have developed rotator tendinitis. Maybe you were involved in an unfortunate accident, maybe the condition was a result of a sports injury. Whatever the cause, you’re now ready to take matters into your own hands. With the help of rotator cuff specific physical therapy for tendonitis, you’ll get the good-as-new relief you’ve been waiting for.

What Is Rotator Cuff Tendinitis?

The rotator cuff is made up of tendons and muscles surrounding the joints of your shoulder bones. The tendons are specifically located in the socket of your shoulder where the ball of the joint and the cap meet. When the tendons are damaged, either by an injury or daily overwork, they become inflamed and cause you to lose out on your regular performance activities. 

Luckily rotator cuff tendinitis does not require surgery. It can be treated with simple physical therapy stretches, rest, and medications to manage the inflammation. If left untreated, this condition will lead to the tendon becoming more damaged and it may start to tear.

A first step to treating rotator cuff tendinitis is to ice the injury for about twenty to thirty minutes in 4-6 hour intervals. You will also want to avoid any further activity where you have to move your shoulder. The next step would be to take anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and manage pain.

In most cases, you can expect to be dealing with this condition for around 2-4 weeks, but in extreme cases, it may last for months to come. Starting out with these simple steps is necessary before you venture into exercises of physical therapy. 

Benefits of Physical Therapy

The range of motion of your shoulder is essential to everyday life activities. Anything from getting dressed to lifting your arms can become a troublesome issue when stretching your shoulder. These little movements are taken for granted once the effects of rotator cuff tendonitis disable you from simple tasks.

Anti-inflammatory and pain medications can help in the meantime while you find the best physical therapist to work with you. However, using medication alone will only temporarily take the pain away. Without proper therapy, you could be dealing with unwanted pain on a consistent basis. You will want to use your medication while doing daily physical therapy. These two practices are used together for the best results.

Seeking help from a professional physical therapist is your best bet! Your therapist will work with you to test your strength and instruct you in recommended stretches that will in time relieve the aching pulls of your inflamed tendons. Depending on your movement abilities you will find that stretching with your specific exercises will hurt before you find relief, but constantly keeping to therapy routine will have you glad you made the decision to get treatment.

What Types of Exercises Can You Expect?

Your physical therapist will go over a number of different exercises and stretches for you to perform in the office and at home. These may seem way too easy to be effective, but the results will have you feeling back to normal sooner rather than later.

A single 5 or 10-pound weight is used for one of the recommended exercises. In this practice, you will use the weight on the side of your affected shoulder. You will need to forward approximately at a 20-25 degree angle while rotating the weight in a small circle. Try to keep pain at a minimum by not pressuring yourself to move too quickly or at a range of motion that makes it physically unbearable. Perform this routine 1-2 times per day, circling your arm 10 times clockwise and counter-clockwise for each session.

Before performing the explained exercise, you will need to do some stretches as a precautionary warm up. Holding the elbow of the affected arm, stretch your limb across your body and hold it steady for a 10-second count. You can repeat this process at different angles, such a holding your arm level with your chin, torso, and belly.

These are just two simple examples of what will be participating in with physical therapy for your rotator cuff tendinitis. Your physical therapist may alter or advance exercises depending on your own capabilities, strength, and pain threshold.

Finding Relief is the Most Important Result

As physically draining as physical therapy sessions can be at first, sticking to your workouts will make the process easier. You don’t want to wait too long to start therapy, because a torn tendon will be much more excruciating. The hassle of having surgery is simple to avoid so long as you take the steps to heal rotator cuff tendinitis before it gets to that extreme. 

Don’t sit on the fence about joining a physical therapist to improve your quality of life. There are plenty of techniques to help you. If you want to regain your strength and go on with your normal daily tasks without disabling pain, talk to your doctor. They should be able to recommend physical therapists in your area.

If you’re still looking for the perfect treatment to suit your needs, call us today to learn more about our services and how we can help. 


Danh Ngo PT, DPT, OCS, SCS

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic and Sports Medicine

Mind Body Health Results Coach

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