If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it may very well be due to shoulder tendonitis. Patients with this condition often seek help at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine where our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating joint pain and dysfunction. As physiatrists, we have a holistic approach to medical care, providing a wide range of nonsurgical treatments for shoulder (rotator cuff) tendonitis. We frequently use a combination of therapies to offer faster, longer-lasting results.

Whether you know that you injured your shoulder or don’t understand why it’s causing you pain, contact one of our conveniently located offices for prompt diagnosis, treatment, and healing to get you back on track. Our goal is always to relieve your pain and restore you to full functionality as quickly as possible.

Defining Shoulder Tendonitis

Tendons are cords of fibrous tissue that attach muscle to bone. Our shoulders have four major tendons, any of which can become irritated or inflamed, a condition known as shoulder tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis). Shoulder tendonitis, which results in pain, swelling, and tenderness in the shoulder, often occurs due to repetitive stress and/or impingement. 

Types and Causes of Shoulder Tendonitis

There are two types of shoulder tendonitis: acute and chronic. Acute shoulder tendonitis is brought on by sudden excessive lifting of the arm to perform an overhead task; chronic shoulder tendonitis is caused by the wear and tear of arthritis or long-term repetitive stress.

Risk Factors for Shoulder Tendonitis

Tendonitis is most often caused by overuse or repetitive motion. An athlete who performs the same play over and over, or a worker whose job stresses the same muscles and tendons repeatedly, can also strain or otherwise injure his or her tendons. Several factors may make you more susceptible to shoulder tendonitis, including:

  1. Age (with its associated lack of muscle strength and flexibility)
  2. Repetitive or awkward motions
  3. Sports that involve raised arms, such as:
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Golf
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  1. Occupations that involve excessive vibration, repetitive motion, awkward positions, overexertion or  overhead reaching, including:
  • Construction
  • Painting
  • Roofing
  • Plumbing
  • Shelving merchandise
  1. Chores that involve reaching and repetitive arm motion, such as:
  • Gardening
  • Shoveling
  • Cleaning house ( vacuuming or scrubbing, cleaning windows)
  • Raking

Many patients who come to us with shoulder tendonitis have made the mistake of not stretching before strenuous or unfamiliar activities or trying to work or play through shoulder pain when rest is required.


Depending on the individual circumstances, shoulder tendonitis can present as a sudden injury or an ache that worsens over time. Symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Pain when raising your arm or reaching behind 
  • Shoulder clicking
  • Pain when lying on your shoulder
  • Upper arm pain as far down as the elbow

If your shoulder pain persists despite rest and over-the-counter painkillers, you should contact us for a consultation. Continuing your normal routine will likely worsen the pain and may do more damage to the affected tendon.


The doctors at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine have a well-deserved reputation for being thorough diagnosticians. We will take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination before administering any necessary imaging tests. 

While an X-ray will show whether a bone spur is causing the problem, an ultrasound or MRI will be necessary to show soft tissue damage. If we believe there may be nerve impingement, we may perform an EMG (electromyography) and nerve conduction study as well. Diagnosis of shoulder tendonitis may warrant any of the following:

  • Imaging tests: X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injections of musculoskeletal tissue to show us precisely where your pain originates 
  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies to detect neurological damage

Treatments at LI Spine Rehabilitation Medicine 

Unlike some medical offices, we offer a number of treatment options for shoulder tendonitis, none of which involves surgical procedures. Because we believe in treating you as a whole person, we will discuss various therapies with you so we can decide together which treatment, or combination of treatments will be best in your individual case. First, we will recommend rest and over-the-counter oral NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory creams. Ice and compression may help as well.

If the pain persists, treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy with electrical stimulation to restore strength and range of motion (our physical therapy is customized to meet your particular needs)
  • Acupuncture to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) to promote healing
  • Ultrasound-guided injections of a corticosteroid and analgesics to relieve pain and inflammation directly at the source
  • PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) therapy to increase blood flow and promote rapid healing (in addition to treating pain and inflammation)
  • Injections of corticosteroids and analgesics (administered under ultrasound guidance for precision)to relieve pain and reduce inflammation

It should be noted that corticosteroid injections are not recommended for patients with chronic tendonitis (lasting more than 3 months).

Contact Our Highly Skilled Physiatrists Today

Our extensive experience in successfully treating shoulder tendonitis gives you a distinct advantage when it comes to conquering your pain and lack of mobility. Because joint and back pain and function are our only focus, we know which approaches will work best in your situation. 

We will always make a comprehensive assessment before recommending treatment options, taking into consideration your age, overall physical condition, medical history, and emotional well-being. You can rely on us to treat you as a whole person, not just another case of shoulder tendonitis. While you might expect this personalized approach to be time-consuming, it actually helps us get to the heart of the matter quickly and efficiently. Contact us today.