Recognising A Supraspinatus Muscle Injury

Recognising A Supraspinatus Muscle Injury

Injury To The Supraspinatus Tendon Is More Common Than Injury To The Muscle

Injury involving the supraspinatus muscle in the majority of the time involves tendon pathology more so than injury to the muscle belly itself and is frequently accompanied with injury to another part of the rotator cuff. Injury can come about as the result of trauma, or repeated micro-trauma and complaints involving the supraspinatus muscle may present as tendinitis (inflammation), tendinosis (degeneration), as well as partial thickness, or full thickness tendon tears which themselves are often situated near (or at) the insertion of the tendon onto the greater tuberosity of the humerus.

Causes Of Supraspinatus Muscle Injury

Causes of supraspinatus muscle injury are multifactorial and are more common with increasing age and also more commonly experienced on someones dominant side (i.e. right shoulder, for right handed individuals). This pattern of increased frequency with increasing age and handedness is especially so with degenerative non-traumatic supraspinatus injuries. Some of the risk factors of pain and injury are listed below:

Risk Factors Include:

  • Age-related degeneration, where over time there is “wear and tear” of the tendon.
  • Microtrauma associated with repetitive lifting stress, or repetitive over head activities. Be these occupational; working as a painter… Or leisure; a keen tennis player….
  • A history of injury, or trauma as a result of a fall onto an outstretched arm, or the result of attempting to lift something too heavy or suddenly having to adjust when lifting a heavy load, such a slipping when carrying furniture…
  • Often associated with other injuries to the shoulder, such as following suffering a shoulder subluxation, or dislocation.

Do I Have A Supraspinatus Muscle Injury?

Interestingly not all tears are symptomatic and it isn’t uncommon in the ageing population for some partial, or full-thickness tears not to any cause significant pain, or functional limitations. And the presence of asymptomatic supraspinatus tendon tears are a relatively common finding on investigations like an ultrasound scan or MRI in people in their twilight years. However given that partial and full thickness tears can progress, any increasing pain associated with supraspinatus tears may be an indication of injury progression and are ideally assessed and monitored.

Signs And Symptoms Of Injury

A number of signs and symptoms may indicate suspicion of supraspinatus injury or functional impairment, including:

  • Pain associated with the supraspinatus is often considered to be located antero-laterally and superiorly in the shoulder but can refer into the upper arm.
  • Pain and/or weakness when lifting and lowering your arm away from your side.
  • Pain and/or weakness when performing activities in positions overhead, whereby in some situations even simple daily activities such as combing, or washing your hair may be challenging.
  • Over time as the injury progresses pain may become more noticeable at rest. Including being present at night and often made worse when lying on the affected shoulder which can compress the irritated tissue.
  • Clicking in the shoulder may be noted given that the supraspinatus is a stabliser of the shoulder and injury can impact overall shoulder stability potentially contributing to clicking.
  • Some individual may notice a reduction in movement, including difficulty reaching behind your back (such as tucking in your shirt) or retrieving something from your back pocket.

If you suspect you have a supraspinatus muscle injury then contact your local physio as Sydney Physio Clinic we have a CBD location as well as an Eastern Suburbs location on Frenchmans Road in Randwick.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding Recognising A Supraspinatus Muscle Injury should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.