Tendons are fibrous structures that connect muscles to bones. Due to overuse, injury or age, tendons can become inflamed or swollen, and produce pain when used. Though shoulder tendonitis, treated properly, can be repaired in a short span of time, sometimes it requires more aggressive treatment, such as surgery, depending on the cause of the tendonitis.
Typically, tendonitis affects the wrist, shoulder, knee or ankle, but it can affect any joint. However, jobs that require repeatedly using your arm in an overhead position, such as butchers, overhead assembly work or overhead pressing machine, are more likely to suffer shoulder tendonitis. The most common sports that require the arm to be moved over the shoulder are racket sports, baseball, weight lifting and certain swimming strokes.
Due to the pain generated by tendon injuries, tendonitis has the potential to cause changes in lifestyle, for example, if you participate in sports on a regular basis. Your doctor may recommend that you refrain from these sports, depending on which joint your tendonitis is affecting, to ensure that the tendon heals properly. If your shoulder was affected, and the sport caused the injury, your doctor may recommend you stop participating in that sport, or any sports that require you to raise your hands over your shoulders, to prevent further injury.
When you suffer from tendonitis, you will experience pain near the joint affected. You may experience pain at night. When you engage in an activity that uses the affected joint, you will experience pain. When your joint is at rest, typically you experience no pain, or it is considerably lessened to the point of being unnoticeable. In the shoulder, you can't move your arm into certain positions, and if you can, you experience significant pain or tenderness in your shoulder and you will be unable to hold your arm in certain positions, in other words, your range of motion (ROM) is affected. You may notice pain when you reach into a back pocket, or you may find you can't move that way at all.
Causes of shoulder tendonitis
In the shoulder, tendonitis is an inflammation of the rotator cuff and/or biceps tendon. Shoulder tendonitis is usually caused by the tendon being pinched by the surrounding structures.
See your physician if you experience symptoms of shoulder tendonitis because it could be a more serious problem such as a rotator cuff injury. The physician will order x-rays, which will confirm the diagnosis based on the symptoms you describe.