Dealing With An Injury To Your Infraspinatus Tendon
You use your infraspinatus tendon for back-hand motions such as writing, reaching behind you or opening a door. The muscle that covers the lower part of your scapula between the tendon and your scapula's spine, attaches to the humerus near the posterior of your upper arm.
Any lateral rotation that takes place in your shoulder is the responsibility of the infraspinatus tendon. The body of this tendon is roughly two inches long and it also has a wide attachment that varies in size depending on the individual.
In most people, this tendon is very weak so if it is suddenly expected to perform heavy exertion, it will often tear. This tissue damage can be mild to severe. Many individuals have a mild tear in their infraspinatus tendon that goes untreated for many years but it can cause severe injury later.
Some individuals experience a strain in the tendon rather than a tear. This usually builds gradually and is extremely common in people who play racquetball. Any kind of injury to this tendon can persist for many years if left untreated and interfere with sports, sleep and daily activities.
Signs Of Tendinitis
If a strain occurs in the infraspinatus tendon, the individual usually does not experience any immediate discomfort, especially if they are participating in sports. This is because they are focused on the activity and the tendon is warmed up. Later on that day is when the pain will present itself, trying to lift the arm or put on a coat or shirt.
Tendinitis in this area will rarely cause any pain in the muscle so it is often hard to pinpoint where the actual discomfort is coming from. The pain is referred to nearby areas rather that the real site of the injury. Generally, pain will be felt in the upper portion of the arm and moving into the back. A strain in the infraspinatus tendon may also make it very difficult to turn the wrist.
Healing Injured Tissues
Quite often, if a strain is allowed a few months of rest, it will heal on its own but in an active person it will slowly worsen over several years. An exercise program developed for that particular tendon will usually help.
- Massage – While massage alone will not heal tendonitis, if there is a substantial amount of scar tissue, it will help to break it down. Massage is usually used alongside exercise therapy.
- Friction Therapy – As long as the injury in the tendon is not too severe, four to six weeks worth of friction treatment can be very helpful. This type of therapy helps heal the tendon correctly by reducing adhesive tissue. This method of treatment is described as being annoying but not painful.
- Exercise Therapy – If performed everyday for a minimum of six weeks, this type of treatment can be very effective. Scar tissue fibers are realigned by stretching which allows them to heal correctly.
- Warm your infraspinatus tendon up by circling your arm for at least two minutes.
- Next you will stretch your tendon out 5 times, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Cross your arm in front of your body before bringing your elbow toward your opposite shoulder. Place your opposite hand on your elbow and gently stretch. You should not feel any pain but you will feel a pull. Rest for one minute between each set.
- Lie on your side with the injured shoulder up. Keep your upper arm and elbow pressed against your body. Holding a very light weight, less than 5 pounds, rotate upward until your arm is at 180 degrees. Repeat this 10 times. Rest for one minute and repeat the entire set two more times.
- Apply heat or ice to the area for 10 minutes.
A physician who has been trained in orthopedic medicine may choose to administer corticosteroid injections. It is important that a few days of rest follow these injections as well as six weeks of rehabilitation.