Pinched Tendon In Rotator Cuff: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Rotator cuff is a series of four muscles and tendons that attaches to the bones of the shoulder joint. Its main function is to keep the shoulder joint stable and facilitate full mobility of the shoulder joint. Pinched tendon in rotator cuff is addressed by medical fraternity as impingement syndrome. These four muscles surround the ball of shoulder and the acromion process of the shoulder blade. If the tendon of the rotator muscle gets inflamed it can get compressed or pinched between the bones of the shoulder joint.

Inflammation of the rotator cuff occurs due to overuse or an injury.

Pinched tendon in rotator cuff gives rise to pain in shoulder especially while moving the shoulder over the head. Treatment consists of medication, ice fomentation and physiotherapy exercises. Surgery is considered only if the conservative treatment taken for three months or more fails to reduce the symptoms.

Symptoms Of Pinched Tendon In The Rotator Cuff

The three classical symptoms of pinched tendon in the rotator cuff are pain, weakness of the joint and limited range of mobility of shoulder joint. The symptoms do not develop suddenly, but develop gradually. But over a period of time they worsen.

Below are important symptoms of pinched tendon:

  • Pain in the shoulder, mainly in the outer side of the upper arm.
  • Pain is worse with lifting of arm overhead.
  • Pain is normally mild or moderate but if in case the rotator cuff is torn or injured; pain becomes unbearable for the patient.
  • Abnormal clicking when the arm is raised over the shoulder.
  • There may weakness in the affected arm. Patient may find difficulty in lifting the arm or hold any object with the painful arm.
  • Pain in arm wakes up the patient.
  • Limited range of motion. Patient finds it difficult to reach behind or lift his arm above the head. He may find difficulty in wearing his dress due to stiffness of the shoulder.

What Causes Pinched Tendon In The Rotator Cuff?

Pinched tendon in rotator cuff usually develops due to inflammation or irritation of the rotator cuff muscles. When the tendon becomes inflamed it can be pinched between the bones of the shoulder joint. This may lead to several uncomfortable symptoms. The main reason for inflammation is either overuse of the rotator cuff or an injury.

Keeping the shoulder under the head while sleeping or playing games which need extension of arm above the head or work condition which require frequent lifting of arm can cause wear and tear of the tendon. It may eventually result in inflammation. Person playing tennis, volleyball, baseball, weight lifting, swimming, can suffer from this illness. Aging and degeneration of tendon can also lead to this condition.

Treatment For Pinched Tendon In Shoulder

Pinched tendon of rotator cuff treatment is aimed initially to alleviate pain and subsequently the inflammation. Primary treatment consists of giving rest to the affected shoulder joint. Patient is advised to restrict any major activities with the affected hand.

Pain relieving medicines and ice fomentation is beneficial in reducing pain and swelling. Additionally patient is also advised for physiotherapy exercise which consists of stretching and strengthening exercise.

If the symptoms are not relieved with medicines, sometimes the doctor may give steroid injection in the affected tendon to reduce inflammation. Surgery may be the last measure to relieve the problem if all other conservative measures fail.