Supraspinatus Tendinopathy

Category: Education

What is Supraspinatus Tendinopathy?untitled-1200-x-600-px

Supraspinatus Tendinopathy can cause pain in your shoulder near the location of the supraspinatus tendon. The supraspinatus is one of the many muscles in your shoulder that make up the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff holds your arm in place and is important for the full mobility and strength of your shoulder. Damage, irritation, or overuse of the supraspinatus muscle can cause its tendon to become damaged and painful. This pain can get worse with certain postures or overhead movements. Physiotherapy treatment is often the first line for reducing your symptoms and returning to the things you want to do.

Why does it happen?

Rotator cuff tendinopathy affects 1 in 5 people and is a common cause of shoulder pain and weakness. Overhead movements can put additional pressure on your supraspinatus tendon as it passes between the bones in your shoulder. When this happens, it is called impingement. Some reasons for supraspinatus impingement are:

  • Weakness of the muscles that make up your rotator cuff
  • Age-related changes in the structures that make up your shoulder joint
  • Acute changes such as an injury, muscle sprain or strain.

The goal of treatment will be to reduce pain and inflammation, normalize mobility, and strengthen the rotator cuff muscles to optimize the mechanics of your shoulder.

The role of Physiotherapy

therapist-assisting-sh-issueIt is important to remember that pain and injuries often have many contributing factors. Your Physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment and work with you to find the most effective treatment strategy. Some approaches for treating Supraspinatus Tendinopathy are:

  • Education for self-management
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Manual therapies such as joint mobilization
  • Deep and superficial massage
  • Modalities such as ultrasound or shockwave therapy
  • Acupuncture

Often a combination of techniques will be performed to treat the underlying cause(s) and to reduce your pain.  Managing your pain is a critical component of treating your tendinopathy so you can keep your shoulder strong.


Leong, H., Fu, S., He, X., Oh, J., Yamamoto, N., & Yung, S. (2019). Risk factors for rotator cuff tendinopathy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 51(9), 627–637.

Littlewood, C., Ashton, J., Chance-Larsen, K., May, S., & Sturrock, B. (2012). Exercise for rotator cuff tendinopathy: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 98(2), 101–109.