Supraspinatous Tendinopathy

That niggly pain often felt at the front of the upper arm when lifting the arm out to the side or assuming a ‘beer drinking’ position, could well be Supraspinatous Tendinopathy.

This muscle actually lies at the back of the shoulder in the little hollow above the spine of the shoulder blade (scapula). It then sends a tendon to the front of the upper arm bone (humerus). To get there this tendon runs between 2 bony areas, the head of the humerus and the acromion. If your posture is  good there is enough space for this tendon to fit through this space.

However, if you slouch, this space gets smaller due to altered biomechanics, muscle imbalances , muscle and myofascial tension in the area. The tendon gets impinged (squeezed) and inflamed causing pain and loss of function. Over time this can create an extremely debilitating situation and can cause tears in the tendon.

Correct posture and muscle balance are the key factors to avoiding this condition, but if it’s too late, then physiotherapy treatment will aim at releasing muscle spasm and opening the joint up, to create more space for the tendon to move freely between the 2 bony surfaces. Correction of posture and muscle balance is an important part of rehabilitation, ensuring that this has less chance of recurring.

So yes it’s the same old nag…….sit up straight, shoulders slightly back and breastbone up! You should not be able to see the tips of your shoulders in your peripheral vision when you are sitting and standing. If you feel you may be at risk, you can also contact us for an assessment and preventative exercise program.

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Cheryl Stacey BSc (Physio) SPT

Cheryl qualified from Wits in 1993 and worked for a variety on practices locally and abroad to gain a vast scope of practice. She opened her own practice in 1999 seeing orthopaedic and sports patients as well as 6 years spent treating post- operative spinal patients.

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