Supraspinatus tendinosis treatment

Updated April 17, 2017

Supraspinatus tendinosis (tendinitis) is the inflammation of the small rotator cuff tendon (there are four of them) on top of the shoulder near the end of the collar bone. The supraspinatus tendon is the one most associated with a shoulder impingment, where the tendon is too inflamed to comfortably pass between the top of the humerus and acromion bones. Treatment for supraspinaturs tendinosis can include a combination of rest, ice, massage and exercise.


In some cases of supraspinatus tendinosis, a tear may be present in the tendon. This is highly possible if a person has pain when lifting their arm overhead or reaching out for objects. Doctors will usually examine a person if a tear is suspected. An MRI can be used to detect the tear. Surgery may be required for major tears. But minor tears can sometimes be treated non-surgically.

Effects of Rest, Ice & Heat

Initially, rest is important for supraspinatus tendinosis. It allows time for the inflammation and pain to subside while treating the injury with ice. Curtailing physical activity also prevents a person from injuring the muscle tendon even more. Ice causes vasoconstriction which minimises inflammation and pain by limiting blood flow to the area. Ice is most effective when compressed against the injured area with an ice pack. Elevating the injury above the heart can also reduce inflammation. Once the inflammation and pain have subsided, heat can help promote blood (and its healing properties) flow to the area.

Types of Medications

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce swelling and pain. These medications serve as Cox-2 inhibitors which minimise the effects of Cox-2 enzymes and prostaglandins, which cause inflammation and pain (natural body reaction). Ibuprofen or naproxen can be taken throughout the day. For more severe pain, a doctor may prescribe oral steroids or a cortisone shot.

Types of Exercises

Stretching exercises can help loosen up and relax the supraspinatus tendon. Stretching can also recondition the tendon for movement. Stretching exercises are usually performed in a gentle manner within a range that is comfortable. Movements should not cause pain. Stretching exercises can include simple movements like shrugging the shoulders or rotating the arms. Massage can also loosen up the tendon and promote healing. Once the supraspinatus tendon is properly stretched for a period of time, a person can do some light resistance training. For example, a person can also hold a light dumbbell with their arm at a 90-degree angle. Simply moving the dumbbell away from the body and back can help strengthen the supraspinatus tendon. Resistance exercises are the most effective way of promoting blood flow to the affected tendon.

Time Frame

There is no set time frame for overcoming supraspinatus tendinosis. More severe cases will take longer to heal. According to, sometimes, an individual can get back to their workouts or regular activities in 1-3 weeks. Nevertheless, a person who is more proactive in the treatment and recovery process can usually heal more quickly.

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