Rotator Cuff Tendinitis /Impingement Syndrome

What is it?

Rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement syndrome occur due to the irritation and inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons and/or the subacromial bursa within the narrow subacromial space.

This space, located between the acromion process of the scapula and the head of the humerus, can naturally narrow during arm elevation. However, various factors such as bone spurs, thickened bursa, inflamed tendons, calcium deposition, muscle imbalance, or anatomical variations of the acromion process can further narrow this space, leading to pain and discomfort.on painful shoulder condition arising from the irritation of the rotator cuff tendons and/or its bursa within the subacromial space.

What Are the Causes of Pain?

Pain in rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement syndrome can result from inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis), bursa (bursitis), or impingement of these structures within the subacromial space. Repetitive overhead activities, poor posture, muscle weakness, trauma, or underlying conditions like arthritis can contribute to the development of these painful conditions.

How is it Diagnosed?

Diagnosing rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement syndrome typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional. This includes a thorough review of symptoms, a detailed shoulder examination, and possibly radiological imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the extent of tendon involvement and identify any structural abnormalities, such as rotator cuff tendon tear or bone spurs.

What Are the Treatments Available?

Treatment for rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement syndrome aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve shoulder function. Non-operative approaches, including physiotherapy, activity modification, and anti-inflammatory medications, are often recommended as the initial course of treatment. Physiotherapy programs tailored to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and correct muscle imbalances around the shoulder girdle have shown promising results in managing these conditions. Additionally, corticosteroid injections may be utilized to provide targeted relief of inflammation and pain within the subacromial space.

Do I Need Surgery?

If symptoms persist despite conservative measures, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgical procedures such as decompression, bursectomy, and acromioplasty aim to create more space within the subacromial region, relieving pressure on the rotator cuff tendons and bursa.

Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Following subacromial decompression with acromioplasty, patients typically undergo a structured rehabilitation program to restore shoulder mobility, strength, and function gradually. Physical therapy exercises focus on improving range of motion, strengthening the shoulder muscles, and correcting any muscle imbalances that may have contributed to impingement.

Patients are usually advised to avoid activities that place excessive stress on the shoulder joint during the initial stages of recovery. With diligent adherence to the rehabilitation program and guidance from healthcare providers, most patients can expect to experience significant improvement in their shoulder symptoms and function within a few months following surgery.


Rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement syndrome are debilitating conditions that can significantly impact shoulder function and quality of life. By understanding the underlying causes, recognizing typical symptoms, and exploring a range of treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps towards managing these conditions effectively. Whether opting for conservative measures or surgical intervention, seeking timely medical evaluation and guidance is crucial for achieving optimal outcomes and restoring shoulder health and mobility.

Driven by compassion, decades of experience in orthopaedic care, and modern technology, we strive to provide patient-centric care by alleviating pain, restoring mobility, and improving the quality of life for all our patients. At Orthopaedic and Hand Surgery Partners, where compassion meets experience, you can trust in us. 

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Singapore 258500

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820 Thomson Road #06-08
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A
Singapore 574623

Monday to Friday: 0900 - 1730hrs
Closed on Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays