Our shoulder comprises numerous bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, all working together to allow the shoulder its usual range of motion and strength.
The two main tendons that make up the shoulder are the biceps tendon and the rotator cuff tendons. Shoulder tendonitis occurs when there is an inflammation of either one of these tendons.
There are two main types of shoulder tendonitis, these are:
Rotator cuff tendonitis: inflammation of the rotator cuff tendon
Biceps tendonitis: inflammation of the upper biceps tendon.
Both occur as a result of being pinched or squeezed by nearby structures such as bones.
What causes shoulder tendonitis?
Shoulder tendonitis can be caused by:
Injury: sports injuries are the most common cause of shoulder tendonitis but can also be caused by falling directly on the tendons.
Repetitive use or overuse: occurs due to sports, hobbies, or occupations that require repetitive movements or heavy lifting, thus putting excessive weight and strain on the tendons.
What are the symptoms of shoulder tendonitis?
Symptoms of shoulder tendonitis vary among individuals but usually occur where the tendons connect to the bone.
General symptoms of shoulder tendonitis include:
Pain or discomfort in your shoulder which is more pronounced during movement
Limited range of motion
Snapping sound or feeling in shoulder
If you notice any of the symptoms, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.
Yes, shoulder tendonitis is characterised by pain in the affected shoulder and can cause limited range of motion. It may also cause swelling in some individuals.
Who is at risk of shoulder tendonitis in Singapore?
Occupation: certain occupations such as those that involve heavy lifting or repeated/awkward movements can cause your rotator cuff tendon or biceps tendon to become snagged or pinched by nearby structures.
Hobbies/sports: certain activities such as heavy lifting at the gym can cause irritation or inflammation of your shoulder tendons.
Age: as we get older, our tendons start to lose their flexibility, making them more prone to injury.
Medical conditions: diabetes can increase your risk of shoulder tendonitis.
Medications: certain medications such as some antibiotics and corticosteroids can increase your risk of shoulder tendonitis.
How is shoulder tendonitis diagnosed?
Shoulder tendonitis is characterised by shoulder pain which can point to a number of different ailments.
For proper diagnosis, you may be required to undergo the following:
Physical examination: the first step of diagnosis will be a physical examination and a discussion on your medical history. This helps to identify the area of pain, range of motion, and possible cause of your shoulder tendonitis.
X-ray: an x-ray will identify the areas of irritation and inflammation.
Ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): ultrasounds and MRIs will check for the presence of inflammation of the tendons and identify which tendons are inflamed.
What are the treatment options for shoulder tendonitis in Singapore?
Depending on the severity of your shoulder tendonitis, treatment options include: