Rotator Cuff Injury


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Subscapularis tendonopathy


Your Injury

Subscapularis tendonopathy is a painful condition involving irritation or impingement of the subscapularis.

Subscapularis tendonopathy

The subscapularis tendon is the largest of four tendons that make up the rotator cuff. Its function is to turn the arm inwards and behind the back and it is important when doing any lifting movements across your chest, and also for overhead actions, such as swimming, throwing and racquet sports.

The upper part of the tendon can become impinged, meaning it gets trapped in the subacromial space between tendon and bone and becomes inflamed.

Pain may be felt at the front of the shoulder when lifting the arm away from the body and at or above shoulder height, or across the body at shoulder level. Movements involving turning the bent arm away from the body to its full extent may also produce a sharp pain at shoulder height.

Signs & Symptoms

May include:

  • Persistent shoulder pain with overhead activity, such as throwing, swimming or racquet sports.
  • Swelling of the shoulder or upper arm.
  • Weakness – especially during rotation and abduction movement.

Conventional Treatment

May include:

  • Rest the affected limb until inflammation has subsided and movement is manageable.
  • Ice the area of inflammation with a covered icepack for 20 minutes at a time to ease inflammation.
  • Modify activities that aggravate symptoms further (e.g. lifting / reaching overhead).
  • Oral pain relief is often recommended by GPs, such as paracetamol (with or without codeine), or a non steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen.
  • Individuals may be referred for physiotherapy to optimise shoulder joint function and stabilise surrounding muscles through targeted exercises.
  • Corticosterioid injections  may be offered if other pain relief options, and physiotherapy, have not shown improvement in symptoms.
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