supraspinatus tendinitis

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what is supraspinatus tendinosis?

Supraspinatus tendinosis or Supraspinatus tendinitis also called the painful arc syndrome is a common pathological condition of the shoulder where the tendon in the supraspinatus muscle gets inflamed and irritated causing pain and discomfort and restricted mobility of the shoulder.

The main function of the supraspinatus muscle is to abduct (lifting sideways) the arm. The supraspinatus tendon passes between the acromion and the humeral head and impinges upon the acromion resulting in friction, usually this friction is managed by the subacromial bursa but, with persistent strain or increased workload the tendons gets inflamed and results in supraspinatus tendinitis.

Supraspinatus tendinitis is also caused by the supraspinatus tendon tear. This tendon tear results in a painful arc and as the person lifts his hands sideways the supraspinatus tendon impinges upon the tip of the shoulder called the Acromion.

Supraspinatus tendinitis is a pretty common condition and mostly affects people falling in the age group of 25 to 60 years and is more common in athletes involved in baseball, volleyball, etc or people engaged with leisure sports activities over the weekend and people with diabetes.

Content is medically reviewed by:

Shruti Bangera, Masters In Neurological Physiotherapy, Senior Physiotherapist & SME, Portea

difference between supraspinatus tendinitis and supraspinatus tendinopathy

Many people confuse the conditions supraspinatus tendinitis and supraspinatus tendinopathy. Both these pathological conditions affect the shoulder and that is where the similarity of the two ends. While tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle, tendinopathy is a broad term used to describe several supraspinatus tendon injuries like tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, etc.

The difference between supraspinatus tendinitis and supraspinatus tendinopathy is important as both the conditions have different treatment plan. While supraspinatus tendinitis responds well to anti – inflammation treatment, supraspinatus tendinopathy treatment can be a bit lengthy and is more focussed on improving the strength of the tendon and rebuilding the tissues.

supraspinatus tendinitis symptoms

Subtle supraspinatus tendonitis may go unnoticed, but individuals often seek medical advice due to shoulder and upper arm pain. Initially, discomfort arises during overhead or reaching activities. As the condition advances, pain at rest, weakness, and stiffness may impede normal function.

Common signs of Painful Arc Syndrome include:

  • Shoulder Pain: A deep ache at the top and front, radiating down the upper arm, intensified during specific arm movements.
  • Painful Arc: Discomfort in a specific range (80-120o) during arm abduction, with pain-free movement outside this range.
  • Shoulder And Arm Weakness: Pronounced weakness, suggesting a full-thickness rotator cuff tear.
  • Functional Limitation: Difficulty in activities above shoulder height due to pain and restrictions.
  • Sleep Disturbance: Night pain, particularly when lying on the affected side.
  • Full PROM: While pain restricts active movement, passive movement is usually full in pure supraspinatus tendonitis without impingement issues.

supraspinatus tendinitis causes

The main cause behind Supraspinatus Tendinitis is the inflammation of the Supraspinatus tendons. Common factors contributing to Painful Arc Syndrome include:

  • Repetitive Overhead Activities: Frequent arm elevation in sports (tennis, swimming) and gardening tasks (hedge trimming).
  • Heavy Work: Repeated heavy lifting overhead, common in professions like builders and laborers.
  • Poor Posture: Extended periods of slouching, diminishing the subacromial space.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Hereditary connections to the syndrome.
  • Injury: Instances like falling onto an outstretched hand.
  • Age: Natural narrowing of the subacromial space due to aging and wear and tear.
  • Primary Shoulder Impingement: Bone spurs or abnormal acromion shape reducing the subacromial space.
  • Secondary Shoulder Impingement: Dynamic shoulder instability resulting from weakened rotator cuff muscles, leading to poor control and increased friction.


The Supraspinatus tendinitis treatment plan usually begins with self care and RICE or rest, ice, compression and elevation treatment at home. If this doesn’t help consult a doctor who would prescribe Non – inflammatory anti steroids drugs, if this too doesn’t help then corticosteroids injection might be given to the patient to heal the pain. Supraspinatus tendinitis physiotherapy treatment is also advised to people with supraspinatus tendinitis to aid the healing process. In a few very rare cases, doctors also recommend surgery when conservative treatment did not bring desired relief.

how can we help?

We, at Portea, specialize in providing comprehensive healthcare services tailored to individuals dealing with conditions like Supraspinatus Tendinitis. Our team of skilled doctors and certified physiotherapists ensures efficient and personalized care in the comfort of your home. Unlike traditional methods, our healthcare professionals come to you, offering convenient and effective treatment. If you require home-based supraspinatus tendinitis physiotherapy management, simply reach out to us, specify your preferred time, and we’ll be there to support your recovery journey.

With Portea, you’re not just getting supraspinatus tendinitis physiotherapy ; you’re gaining a partner in your journey to recovery and well-being. We also offer a range of superior healthcare services, including doctor consultations, medical equipment, nursing home care, and dedicated caretakers. Rely on us for top-tier healthcare solutions tailored to your requirements.


Which physiotherapy exercises benefit supraspinatus tendonitis?

Effective strengthening exercises involve isotonic resistance for the supraspinatus, internal and external rotators, prone extension, horizontal abduction, forward flexion to 90°, upright abduction to 90°, shoulder shrugs, rows, push-ups, press-ups, and pull-downs, focusing on enhancing scapular stabilizers.

What types of physical therapy are effective for shoulder tendonitis?

Manual therapy, including soft-tissue massage, shoulder stretches, and gentle joint movements, can be utilized to restore proper shoulder mobility.

Which is more beneficial for tendonitis, heat or ice?

Heat is often more beneficial for chronic tendon pain, such as tendinopathy or tendinosis. It enhances blood flow, promoting tendon healing, and also relaxes muscles, providing pain relief.

Which foods are beneficial for tendonitis?

Incorporate whole grains and omega-3-rich foods like salmon, walnuts, and olive oil. Emphasize fruits and vegetables, particularly vitamin C-rich options such as broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, cauliflower, kale, and kiwi.

Which vitamins support tendonitis?

Essential for tendon regeneration, collagen, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids aid in promoting collagen synthesis, reducing inflammation, and facilitating tissue growth and repair.

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