Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (Shoulder Bursitis or Impingement Syndrome)

Rotator cuff tendinitis, also commonly called shoulder bursitis or impingement syndrome, is a common shoulder problem where the rotator cuff tendons become inflamed, irritated, and swollen as the result of being pinched.

Rotator cuff tendinitis is often caused by repetitive overhead activities such as throwing, swinging, raking, or other types of highly repetitive motions. Those who work overhead like carpenters and plumbers often experience rotator cuff tendinitis. Athletes who play overhead sports like baseball, basketball, and volleyball are also prone to the condition. It may also occur as a result of an injury.

Many patients with rotator cuff tendinitis also experience bony spurs.


  • Aching pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain worsened by overhead activity
  • Weakness (secondary to pain)
  • Clicking or popping


Fortunately, the majority of individuals with rotator cuff tendinitis get better with time and strengthening exercises. You must also avoid activities that aggravate the shoulder during recovery. Anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce your discomfort so strengthening exercises can be performed. Cortisone injections are occasionally needed to reduce pain. Alternative treatments including glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may also be used.

During rehabilitation, emphasis should be placed on the shoulder blade muscles, because they form a strong foundation for the rotator cuff muscles. Rehabilitation over a course of eight to 12 weeks is typical.

In more severe cases, surgery may be suggested. This occurs in roughly 10 to 15 percent of cases. Surgery is directed at removing inflamed tissue and bone spurs, if they exist. Secondary problems are commonly encountered and can be dealt with at the same time.