A tendon is a cord that connects muscle to bone. Most tendinitis is a result of inflammation in the tendon. Generally, tendinitis is one of two types:

  • Acute: Excessive ball throwing or other overhead activities during work or sport can lead to acute tendinitis.
  • Chronic: Degenerative diseases like arthritis or repetitive wear and tear due to age can lead to chronic tendinitis.

The most commonly affected tendons in the shoulder are the four rotator cuff tendons and one of the biceps tendons. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles and their tendons that cover the head of your upper arm bone and keep it in the shoulder socket. Your rotator cuff helps provide shoulder motion and stability.

Treatment goals for shoulder tendinitis focus on reducing pain and inflammation in addition to preserving mobility while preventing disability and recurrence. The most common treatments may include resting the shoulder and wrapping it. Applying ice packs may also be appropriate for more recent or severe injuries. Over-the-counter medications such as Aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen may be used to reduce swelling. Physical therapy, which includes range of motion exercises, may also be part of the treatment plan.

Because most cases of shoulder tendinitis are caused by overuse, preventative measures, as opposed to treatment, are preferred. This can be accomplished by:

  • Avoiding or modifying the activities that cause the problem.
  • Correcting underlying conditions, such as improper posture or poor technique in sports or work.
  • Applying basic rules when performing activities, such as building up to your activity level, using limited force and repetition and stopping if unusual pain occurs.