Shoulder tendonitis is a common injury for the throwing/overhead athlete. You may encounter this condition if you play baseball, softball, or tennis.
Tendonitis is caused by chronic overuse. Chronic overuse without proper rest can lead to micro-tearing of the musculotendinous junction (the area where the muscle “meets” the tendon). This constant micro-injury causes inflammation, resulting in symptoms such as redness, swelling, heat, tenderness, and loss of function in the joint.
Common sites for tendonitis include the achilles, elbow, knee, and of course, the shoulder. There are actually two tendons in the shoulder that are susceptible to tendonitis. These two tendons are the supraspinatus muscle, which is one of the rotator cuff muscles, and the long head of biceps brachii muscle. A person suffering from tendonitis of the shoulder may experience pain when doing overhead motions.
During overhead motions, these tendons are under constant stress. For example, if you picture a major-league baseball pitcher – who throws over 100 pitches a game – you can understand the degree of injury these elite throwers encounter.
For the recreational athlete, tendonitis can be just as debilitating, to the point where there is pain before, during, and after activity. A piece of advice: never let the injury get to this point. If you suspect you may have tendonitis, you should seek professional help to assist you in preventing further injury. You can also take preventative measures to decrease your risk of developing tendonitis. Other than seeking professional help, you can
- Warm-up properly; stretch before and after any physical activity.
- Use ice on the shoulder after a game (or other physical activity) for 15 minutes.
- Make sure you strengthen the shoulder muscles prior to the season.
- Don’t overdo overhead activities; make sure you give these tissues time to heal.
- Seek advice from a certified coach to help you with your mechanics. Improper mechanics may predispose you to injury.
Massage therapy can also be beneficial in treating tendonitis. Massage therapy can help stretch muscles, decrease pain, increase circulation locally, and break down any scarring that may have developed due to overuse and activity. Physiotherapists can help identify muscle imbalances and prescribe exercises to correct them, so that you can get back out there and enjoy the activities you love.
Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute is the leading sports medicine, physiotherapy, and chiropractic clinic in the Greater Toronto Area. We offer expert diagnoses, a variety of treatment options, and high-quality care. Click here to learn more about the services we offer, or contact us to schedule an appointment.