The muscles of the rotator cuff play an important role when spiking and serving the ball. The power to perform these moves comes from the shoulder. Rotator cuff tendinitis is usually not acute and the damage builds up over time as the tendons become fatigued and irritated as a result of overuse. Three bones, including the upper arm bone (humerus), the collarbone (clavicle) and the shoulder blade (scapula), comprise the shoulder and multiple tendons and joints ensure the range of motion that you are used to. Your should is kept in its socket thanks to the rotator cuff which is made up us tendons and muscles. The shoulder has a lot of different structures so it is vulnerable to injury and rotator cuff tendinitis is a common issue among volleyball players.

Signs and Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis


Local tenderness and swelling at the front area of the shoulder is the most common complaint that people have. When you try to lift your arm out to the side or behind your back, you may notice some stiffness. When you lift your arm and then lower it, you may notice pain as it is coming down. In the early stages of this problem, the following are common:

  • Pain can occur when you are resting and during activity
  • When reaching or lifting something you may notice pain
  • Pain can start at the front of the shoulder and travel toward the side or down the arm
  • When reaching overhead, it is common to experience pain

As this injury gets worse, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Nighttime pain
  • Having a hard time zippering or buttoning or just lifting a cup of coffee
  • Difficulty reaching backward
  • Loss of range of motion and strength

Treating Rotator Cuff Tendinitis


It is very important to rest the affected shoulder so that it has time to heal.   Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce inflammation and pain, as well as any swelling in the area. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy once you have rested your shoulder for a short while to help in restoring range of motion and strengthening the muscles in the area. Stretching is also important and certain stretches can help to alleviate pain.

If the above treatments are not helpful, steroid injections may help to alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation. While it is not very common, surgery may be done to help heal your tendon and promote greater stability in your rotator cuff. During the procedure, some of the bursal tissue and some bone from the acromion is removed to create some extra room. This surgery may be done open with a larger incision or arthroscopically with a smaller incision.

Once surgery is complete and you have gone through the initial healing phase, rehabilitation is necessary. This works to improve and restore your strength and range of motion in the shoulder so that you can return to your sport.