Rotator cuff tendinitis is a fairly common injury for volleyball players and with high school volleyball getting into full swing we’re going to give a quick overview of rotator cuff tendinitis and what you can do about it.

Rotator cuff tendinitis affects the tendons and muscles that help move the shoulder joint. Tendinitis means that these tendons are inflamed or irritated. Tendinitis of the rotator cuff is usually an overuse injury that develops over time. It’s often the result of participating in activities that require extending the arm over the head, so yeah volleyball is a huge culprit.


The symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis tend to worsen over time, so what may start as a minor annoyance can turn into a serious problem if not treated properly. Initial symptoms can usually be relieved with rest, but if not treated the symptoms become constant. Symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis include:

  • Pain and swelling in the front of the shoulder and side of the arm
  • Pain when raising or lowering the arm
  • Clicking sound when raising the arm
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Pain that causes you to wake from sleep
  • Pain when reaching behind the back
  • Loss of mobility and strength in the affected arm


If you’re showing symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis, it’s time to go see a medical professional.  They will begin by examining your shoulder, they’ll check to see where the pain and tenderness are rooted and test your range of motion. In addition they may also test the strength of your shoulder joint. Your doctor may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis of rotator cuff tendinitis and rule out any other causes of your symptoms.


The first step for treating rotator cuff tendinitis involves managing pain and swelling. This is usually accomplished by:

  • Avoiding activities that cause pain, it sucks, but you may have to sit for a little while.
  • Applying cold packs to the shoulder three to four times per day.
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Additional treatment may include:

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist. Physical therapy will initially consist of stretching and other exercises to improve your range of motion and ease pain. Once the pain is under control, a physical therapist will implement exercises to strengthen your arm and shoulder.


If normal treatment is not improving your rotator cuff tendinitis a doctor may recommend a steroid injection. This is injected into the tendon to reduce the inflammation that’s causing the pain.


If nonsurgical treatment is not successful, you may need to have your shoulder scoped. The good news is that most people have full recovery after having rotator cuff surgery. It’s not an overly invasive operation; it involves two or three small cuts around the shoulder, through which a surgeon can repair the damaged tissue.

Home Care

There are several things you can do on your own to help reduce pain from rotator cuff tendinitis. These techniques can also help prevent rotator cuff tendinitis, or another flare-up of pain.

Shoulder self-care includes:

  • Good posture while sitting
  • Avoiding lifting your arms repetitively over your head
  • Taking breaks from repetitive activities
  • Avoid sleeping on the same side every night
  • Avoid carrying a bag on only one shoulder

If you think you may be suffering from rotator cuff tendinitis give the pros at LOPT a call today we’ll make sure we do everything we can to get you back on the court.