Ask the Docs | Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Posted October 25, 2006
When I raise my arms over my head for a rebound or reach to block a shot, I’m having pain in my shoulder. What could be causing this pain?
Dr. Brian Cole:
Athletes performing overhead activities such as baseball, tennis, and basketball commonly have gradual onset of shoulder pain and inflammation in the major tendons of the shoulder. This condition is referred to as Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.
The Rotator Cuff is a group of four major tendons in the shoulder that connect our “throwing muscles” to the bone. Pain in the shoulder with overhead and reaching movements is characteristic of rotator cuff tendonitis. Typically the overall strength of the affected arm remains close to normal, but athletic activities that involve lifting and reaching become more difficult and painful.
Dr. Brian Cole
When the symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis begin to affect play and quality of life, typically things will get better with a regular anti-inflammatory (such as ibuprofen), using ice for 20-30 minutes after workouts, and temporary avoidance of painful activity.
When this isn’t enough, it is best for an orthopaedic physician to examine the shoulder and determine if further conservative management such as physical therapy or a cortisone injection may be necessary. Usually symptoms of tendonitis resolve in 6-8 weeks if treated appropriately. Arthroscopic surgery is rarely necessary to “decompress” the area around the inflamed rotator cuff tendon and clean out unhealthy tissue.
For more information about Dr. Cole and the Sports Medicine physicians of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, call 877.MD BONES or visit them online at
The information contained on this page is intended only for general public education, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for direct medical advice. This information should not replace necessary medical consultations with a qualified orthopaedic physician.
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