Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

overhead stability

What is the rotator cuff?

The shoulder is a mobile joint made up of 4 muscles that wrap around the shoulder, and allow for rotation and movement. Not only do the rotator cuff muscles allow for movement at the shoulder, they also contribute to the stability of the shoulder joint. 


Lana came to Defy earlier this year after having on and off pain in her shoulder. She had been trying to increase her activity level over the past year by doing yoga at home, and joining an exercise class twice a week. The shoulder pain came on gradually, but increased after lifting her backpack out of the backseat of her car. Lana now finds that washing her hair, putting on a jacket and reaching to put dishes away on the top shelf are the most uncomfortable movements. Also, Lana mentioned that her shoulder seems to feel worse at the end of the day, but also finds it stiff in the mornings. 

Here’s what Lana told us during the assessment to help us determine it might be rotator cuff tendinitis:

  • Lifting an object with an outstretched arm felt heavier than expected 
  • Difficulty and pain with overhead movements
  • Difficulty with increased and repetitive shoulder movements

Here’s what we observed and noted during Lana’s assessment:

  • Tenderness around rotator cuff tendons
  • Decrease range of motion of right shoulder – specifically rotating and lifting her arm up to her side
  • Pain and weakness when lifting arm at her side
  • Positive test when stressing rotator cuff muscles

Here’s how we helped Lana with their rotator cuff injury:

Education: We provided Lana with a plan of action on how long recovery should take, and the steps to take along the way to get back to 100%. 

Improve range of motion: We wanted Lana to increase her range of motion, so we began with light assisted movements to be performed at home to help improve shoulder movements.

Maintain muscle activity: We instructed Lana to continue to activate the muscles of her shoulder, without pain, by providing her with isometric exercises. 

Communication with MD: We sent a report to Lana’s doctor to inform them about our findings from the initial assessment. 


  1. How long does rotator cuff tendinitis take to heal? The time varies based on many factors but the time to heal often ranges from 4 weeks to several months. A detailed assessment from a physiotherapist should be able to give you a clearer timeline on your specific situation.
  2. How do you tell the difference between a rotator cuff tear and tendinitis? This can often be difficult to differentiate because both usually have equal levels of pain and limitations of range of motion and strength. Understanding the mechanism of injury and your daily demands will often give a clearer picture of the injury.
  3. Is rotator cuff tendinitis permanent? It can be permanent if the triggers for the inflammation are not changed or removed. With proper education and modifications, rotator cuff tendinitis is manageable and should not be permanent. 


Contact us and we can arrange for a Free Consultation with one of our Physiotherapists to speak with you about your individual case.

Important Notes:

  • We are able to help individuals of all ages and at all activity levels (recreational to competitive). 
  • We offer direct billing to most major insurance companies for the convenience of our clients.
  • We have appointments as early as 7am and as late as 7:30pm to accommodate busy lifestyles.

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