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Dealing with a pinched tendon in the rotator cuff

May 23rd, 2017 | Posted by corinne grace in Being Prepared

A pinched tendon in the rotator cuff is also called impingement syndrome. The rotator cuff is composed of small muscles that keep the shoulder joint stable along with full mobility.

If the rotator cuff becomes inflamed, it causes tendonitis and it can become stuck or pinched under the shoulder bones. Inflammation of the rotator cuff happens due to overuse or injuries. A pinched tendon in the rotator cuff causes severe pain in the shoulder especially moving the shoulder overhead.

Symptoms of a pinched tendon in the rotator cuff

  • Mild or moderate pain
  • Pain becomes severe with lifting the arm overhead


    Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 20 minutes at a time at 3-4 times every day to lessen the pain and inflammation.

  • Shoulder pain, mainly in the outer area of the upper arm
  • Abnormal clicking sound can be heard when raising the arm over the shoulder
  • Weakness of the affected area. Difficulty in lifting the arm or holding any object using the arm.
  • Limited range of movement. Difficulty in reaching from behind or lifting the arm above the head. Difficulty wearing clothes due to stiffness of the shoulder.


  • Inflammation or irritation of the rotator cuff muscle
  • Keeping the shoulder under the head while sleeping or playing games which requires extension of arms above the head.
  • Work conditions that needs frequent lifting of the arm can result to wear and tear of the tendon and eventually inflammation.
  • Playing volleyball, baseball, tennis, weight lifting and swimming
  • Aging and degeneration of the tendons.


  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected shoulder joint. Avoid performing activities using the affected area.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 20 minutes at a time at 3-4 times every day to lessen the pain and inflammation
  • Take the prescribed anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen to lessen the pain and swelling.
  • Minimize activities that can worsen the condition.
  • Seek the help of a physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to stretch, strengthen and restore the range of motion of the muscles of the rotator cuff. Rehabilitation exercises strengthen the weak muscles and correct postural problems.
  • If the pain persists, a steroid injection might be required to lessen the pain and swelling in the pinched tendon.


  • Proper warm up and adequate stretching exercises for the arm and shoulders.
  • Use proper techniques especially in sports and dancing.
  • If pain in the shoulder starts to develop, stop any activity that triggered the problem at least for a few days and perform only stretching and strengthening exercises.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a pinched tendon in the rotator cuff is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage tendon conditions enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.

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