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How Can Physiotherapy Improve Supraspinatus Tendonitis?

Author : Cara Brownethorpe

The supraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles that enclose the shoulder. It is quite small and sits in the upper limb between the shoulder blade and the spine of the scapula.

It helps counter the gravitational forces on the shoulder that pull downward because of the weight of the limb. It also helps stabilise the shoulder joint.

The supraspinatus muscle has a connecting supraspinatus tendon attaching it to the bone. This tendon can become inflamed because of trauma, repetitive strain or inflammatory disorders, causing pain to the shoulder. The shoulder can feel stiff and more painful with movement. The condition is called supraspinatus tendonitis, painful arc syndrome or rotator cuff tendinitis. It can affect anyone but it occurs more often in those between 20 and 60 years old.

One way to try and prevent the condition in the first place is regular exercise to strengthen the joint and by making sure the shoulder isn't overused. Some people are more prone to getting this sort of injury than others.

Supraspinatus tendonitis will not improve by itself but there are many treatments available including painkillers, acupuncture, rest, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy. In a worst-case scenario, surgery could be required.

Physiotherapists can treat the injury with manual lymph drainage (MLD) and connective tissue manipulation (CTM). Tendons have a minimal blood supply so when they are damaged, they don't have a large blood supply to help with the healing process. These techniques help.

Manual Lymph Drainage is a gentle massage that uses stationary circles over the lymph nodes to improve the flow of lymph (a colourless liquid important for the effectiveness of the immune system). Massage can stimulate the lymph system and enable the fluid to return properly from around the cells to the blood vessels.

Connective tissue manipulation will be used after manual lymph drainage as it increases the blood flow.If connective tissue is too tense, it can restrict the lymph as it tries to go back to the blood vessels. The fluid and pressure can build up and it needs to be released through CTM.

Both treatments reduce the backlog of lymph fluid and reduce inflammation, allowing the supraspinatus tendon to return to its regular size.

A program of special exercises will often be prescribed after the treatment to strengthen the shoulder muscles. The activity that caused the problem in the first place (if relevant) will not be resumed until the area is pain free and the muscles are stronger, therefore preventing a reoccurrence.

Author's Resource Box

Supraspinatus injuries can be treated using techniques such as manual lymph drainage at The London Physio Centre or The Physio Centre in Dorset.

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Tags:   supraspinatus, manual lymph drainage, supraspinatus tendonitis, connective tissue manipulation, rotator cuff injuries, physiotherapy

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Submitted : 2011-05-09    Word Count : 437    Times Viewed: 533