Supraspinatus Tendonitis causes prevention and cure

The supraspinatus (from the Latin supraspinatus) is a comparatively small muscle of the upper back that runs from a hollow in the shoulder blade (scapula) to the humerus (the long bone at the top of the arm). It is one of the muscles that stabilises and strengthens the shoulder.

The main cause of supraspinatus tendonitis is continuous over-use of the muscle, causing small tears to occur in the fibres of the tendon. The supraspinatus tendon is at risk of being caught in the joint during repetitive movement.

Sports such as swimming pose the highest risk of this condition as they involve repeated over-arm actions. Age is another factor as tendons become more brittle and less elastic as we mature.

Work and household activities can also cause this problem, especially when involving repeated actions with a raised arm. Other causes include genetic abnormality, shoulder instability, unfamiliar extreme exercise and lack of sufficient core strength.

Symptoms of Supraspinatus Tendonitis

The main symptoms of supraspinatus are pain and inflammation. The small ruptures that arise in the tendon cause inflammation which causes pain. This will start as mild, only felt with movement that raises the arm above shoulder-height and to the side. A little pressure on the tip of the shoulder will be painful. Left untreated, the pain will become prolonged and increased and felt a great deal at night.

Other symptoms include a stiffness and weakness in the shoulder joint, pain when raising the arm, limited movement and discomfort in bed.

Treatment of Supraspinatus Tendonitis

Tendons can heal if allowed to rest and given time. Continuing to exercise with supraspinatus can cause it to become serious and may lead to surgery.

Exercise, especially the one which caused the problem, needs to stop and the shoulder rested. It is essential that you apply ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes every couple of hours to the shoulder for the first few days to reduce swelling and inflammation. These are also treated with anti-inflammatory medication and topical creams. Support and immobilisation of the arm will prevent unintentional movements and aid the healing process.

As the pain starts to ease, start small movements of the arm and light strengthening exercises. It is important to avoid painful movements and to progress gradually.

A physiotherapist can advise which exercises will enable you to get back to full activity soonest.

Prevention of Supraspinatus Tendonitis

Once you have had tendonitis, it is more likely to recur which is why you must allow enough time for the tendons to heal before recommencing sport or exercise. It is a good idea to concentrate on increasing the strength and flexibility of the shoulder muscles; this will help in the prevention of supraspinatus tendonitis.

Obviously, you should always warm up and cool down with any exercise with scrupulous attention to the muscles and tendons of the shoulder. Only increase the duration and intensity of an activity gradually and avoid over-exertion.

Some studies show that certain supplements may help to prevent tendon ruptures. These supplements help to provide nutritional support for strengthening tendons, the formation of your tendons and prevent tissue breakdown. They may also stimulate growth and repair of tendons and muscles.

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