Softball and baseball are very popular sports among kids and adults in the United States and all over the world. Over time, both of these sports have and are continuing to be more popular and more competitive. With a growing number of participants, playing at all levels from t-ball to professional, injuries are bound to occur.  Some of the most commonly injured body regions in these sports include the shoulders, elbows, legs, knees, and ankles.

Rotator Cuff tendonitis aka Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Rotator cuff tendonitis is a condition where there is inflammation in one or more of the tendons of the muscles in the rotator cuff.

What is the Rotator Cuff? 

The muscles of the rotator cuff function to help stabilize the shoulder joint. The muscles are known as the “SITS” muscles and

There are 4 muscles that comprise the rotator cuff

There are 4 muscles that comprise the rotator cuff


Supraspinatus muscle

Infraspinatus muscle

Teres minor muscle

Subscapularis muscle


What are the symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/ Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

People suffering from rotator cuff tendonitis or rotator cuff syndrome often feel a deep, dull, achy feeling and stiffness around the shoulder joint.

What Care causes of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/Rotator Cuff Syndrome?  

Repetitive throwing can lead to rotator cuff syndrome

Repetitive throwing can lead to rotator cuff syndrome

Causes of this injury can include:

  • repetitive overhead activity such as throwing a ball
  • heavy lifting over a prolonged period of time as in power lifting or bodybuilding
  • development of bone spurs due to repetitive shoulder activity such as playing tennis

How do you diagnose Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/ Rotator Cuff Syndrome?

Some special tests that we use to diagnose Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Rotator Cuff Syndrome include:


Apley’s Scratch Test:

Reaching overhead with the effected arm to touch their back, and then reaching under and behind the shoulder.  Pain with this test suggests Rotator cuff tendonitis.


Empty Can Test/ Supraspinatus Muscle Test:

Arm is brought out to 90 degrees in the scapular plane, internally rotate arm by pointing the thumb down towards the ground and resist as pressure is exerted down on the arm. This test is testing the integrity of the supraspinatus muscle. Pain is a positive sign.


Infraspinatus Muscle Test:

The arm is at your side with the elbow bent to 90 degrees, bring the arm in towards your stomach 45 degrees. Resist medial rotation force. Pain or the inability to resist medial rotation indicates a positive test for an infraspinatus strain.


Lift Off Test/ Subscapularis Muscle Test:

Place the back of the hand against mid-lumbar spine. Then lift the hand away from the back against resistance. An inability to perform this action indicates an injury of the subscapularis muscle.


Patte Test/Teres Minor Muscle Test:

Elevate the arm to 90 degrees in the scapular plane with the elbow flexed to 90 degrees and laterally rotate the shoulder. A positive test occurs with weakness and/or pain in the shoulder.


How is Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/ Rotator Cuff Syndrome treated?  

Trying to strengthen tendonitis will only result in more pain and inflammation

Trying to strengthen tendonitis will only result in more pain and inflammation

I use a combination of passive therapies at the beginning of treatment and transition to active strengthening when appropriate.  For example; if you have rotator cuff tendonitis and you try to strengthen a muscle that is inflammed it will only serve to promote more inflammation! The passive therapies we utilize include:

Therapeutic ultrasound – to dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to the injured area.

ART/ Myofascial Release – to increase the blood flow to the area and increase the elasticity of the surrounding musculature.

Rock tape – used for added joint support.

Shoulder manipulation – to fix misalignments and joint subluxations. (If w