A supraspinatus tendon problem is manifested by pain with abduction (movement away from the body) and external rotation of the shoulder, especially when reaching for things above shoulder level, or pain in the shoulder after sleeping due to compression of the supraspinatus tendon. The supraspinatus tendon often refers pain to the back of the shoulder. The supraspinatus tendon is the main abductor and external rotator of the shoulder.
Supraspinatus tendinopathy can be induced by large amounts of swim training, for instance, and is worsened when a swimmer’s shoulder is hypermobile. The key muscle group of the shoulder is the rotator cuff, made up of (from anterior to posterior) the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor. The primary role of the rotator cuff is to function as the dynamic and functional stabilizer of the glenohumeral joint. Specifically, the supraspinatus muscle helps seat the humeral head (ball) into the glenoid cavity (socket) when the arm is raised from the side.
For the serious athlete or those performing a lot of overhead work, this happens thousands of times, so it is no wonder the supraspinatus tendon becomes injured.
Sleeping on the shoulder causes a pinching of the rotator cuff muscles and can lead to rotator cuff weakness. There are cases where the cause of the rotator cuff tendon laxity was due to years of sleeping on the shoulder.
In most cases, traditional therapies such as exercise and physical therapy will resolve rotator cuff tendonitis. It is not uncommon, however, for rotator cuff injuries to linger because blood supply to the rotator cuff tendons is poor.
Poor blood supply is a reason the rotator cuff is so commonly injured.
In chronic cases of shoulder pain due to rotator cuff weakness, Prolotherapy can be recommended. Prolotherapy will cause the rotator cuff to strengthen and eliminate shoulder pain. If rotator cuff weakness is not corrected, the shoulder’s range of motion will deteriorate. Rapid deterioration can occur, especially in people over 60 years of age.
As previously stated, the supraspinatus muscle causes shoulder abduction and external rotation. When this muscle weakens, movement becomes painful. Those who have supraspinatus tendon laxity causing pain will stop moving their arms into the painful position. Although they may not realize it, they are slowly but surely losing shoulder movement. What begins as a simple rotator cuff muscle weakness, easily treated with Prolotherapy, has the potential to become a frozen shoulder because of scar tissue formation inside the shoulder that was left untreated. The scar tissue formation, which causes a decrease in the ability to move the shoulder, is called adhesive capsulitis. Pain means something is wrong.
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