tendinopathy

What Athletes Should Know About Tendinopathy In the Shoulder

If you suspect you have shoulder tendinopathy:

…learn the difference between tendinitis and tendinosis
…discuss your symptoms with a doctor
…work with a physical therapist for treatment

Whether you’re an elite athlete or weekend warrior, you probably have or will experience some sports-related shoulder discomfort or pain. Often this pain is the result of overuse and strain on the tendons. This condition is called tendinopathy, and it is essential for athletes of all levels to be aware of it and how it can affect their performance.

What Is Tendinopathy?

Tendinopathy is a broad term for any tendon injury in the shoulder. These injuries fall into two more specific conditions called tendinitis and tendinosis.

Tendinitis is inflammation of overused tendons. It is acute and comes on suddenly. Luckily the pain and inflammation are easy to treat, and any damage is not permanent.

Tendinosis is the degeneration of the tendons and is more serious. Chronic overuse of the shoulder or a sudden impact can cause tears in your tendons. Often, a shoulder injury begins as tendinitis and turns into tendinosis if not treated correctly.

What Causes Shoulder Tendinopathy?

Like most sports-related injuries, shoulder tendinopathy is caused by overuse. When you make repetitive motions like pitching a ball or swinging a golf club, the tendons in your shoulder begin to get stressed.

The rotator cuff is the most frequent victim of tendon injuries because it is the part that allows your shoulder to make circular motions. Those kinds of rotations strain the rotator cuff and cause damage over time in athletes who compete in many different sports.

Less frequently, a sudden blow to the shoulder can cause tendinopathy. This isn’t uncommon among athletes who may experience a variety of falls and collisions.

Occasionally, arthritis or other inflammatory conditions can also cause shoulder tendinopathy.

How Is Shoulder Tendinopathy Diagnosed?

Feeling some pain in your shoulder or can’t move it like you used to? As an athlete, you could have shoulder tendinopathy. Your physician can help diagnose the condition.

First, there are many symptoms of shoulder tendinopathy that can tip you off that it’s time for a doctor’s visit. Schedule an appointment if you are experiencing any of the following and can’t find relief with typical home treatment:

…Pain in the front of your shoulder
…Shoulder pain that is worse with use
…Shoulder pain when reaching behind your back
…Shoulder pain when lifting your arm
…Shoulder pain at night when sleeping on your injured side
…Reduced range of motion
…Shoulder weakness
…Shoulder stiffness
…A “clicking” sound when you raise your arm

Your physician will ask for your medical history, discuss your symptoms, and perform a physical examination. Sometimes they will order an X-ray or MRI to confirm your condition.

Treatment for Shoulder Tendinopathy

Shoulder tendinopathy should not be ignored. Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor can prescribe treatment to help your injured tendons heal.

Initial treatment will focus on reducing your pain and restoring function. This treatment may include:

…Rest from your sport
…Ice to reduce inflammation
…Heat to ease stiffness
…Over-the-counter pain relievers
…Stretching
…Tissue and cell therapies
…PRP injections

If your tendinopathy has become tendinosis, you may require surgery as a last resort. Typically, this is done arthroscopically, where the surgeon makes two small incisions through which a small camera and surgical tools are inserted to repair damaged tendons.

Physical Therapy for Shoulder Tendinopathy

One more treatment your physician may recommend for sports-related shoulder tendinopathy is physical therapy.

As an athlete, working with a sports physical therapist can not only aid your recovery but improve your performance as well. Your physical therapist can analyze your unique physiology and technique to identify improvements that will prevent future shoulder strain. They will put you through exercises to strengthen and condition your shoulder. All of this will help reduce pain, increase range of motion, and help you compete at a higher level than before.

True Sports Physical Therapy – Where Maryland Athletes Rehab

At True Sports, we’re sports-focused because you’re sports-focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport. With six convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment and have True Sports get you back to your team. For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at 1-401-946-1672.

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