Shoulder Impingement Syndrome : Supraspinatus Tendonitis

I began doing yoga in 2003. It helped with so many of my physical issues I was hooked instantly! Years of dance class made me a natural at the bendy twisty poses.

Two years ago I was in a restorative relaxing gentle class. We were told to go into Cow Face Pose.

This pose doesn’t make me think, “Moo” so much as “Ow!”


I rolled my right shoulder as I had for the thousands of classes I had take prior. It felt tight but I “breathed into it”. The following pose was King Pigeon Pose.


“I’m not showing off, it’s a great hip opener!”

As I spun my right arm around to finish the pose I heard and felt a commanding “POP!” The warm trickling pain that followed was alarming, but not enough to make me stop the class. Two days later I couldn’t get my arm to move away from my body. Putting on a bra was impossible, as was lifting anything heavier than a pencil.The damage to my arm was a torn rotator cuff muscle. I had torn the Supraspinatus tendon at its attachment. It wasn’t severe but it was enough to need rehabilitation and treatment. This injury is very common. In 2008, close to 2 million people in the United States went to their doctors because of a rotator cuff problem. The Rotator Cuff muscles are: Supraspinatus (the most commonly injured muscle), Infraspinatus, Subscapularis, and Teres Minor.


They hold the “ball” of the upper arm bone into the shoulder socket.  One reason is that is can be caused by many different actions. The most common in older adults is falling onto an out stretched hand. This jams the upper arm bone (humerus) into the socket resulting in a shear of the muscles attachments to this bone. The two common reasons teens and young adults suffer from this is weight training with incorrect technique and repetitive overhead arm activities like throwing a ball or swimming. Adults see this as well due to job related stressors like mechanics or carpenters.

With the increase in computer use we all have poor upper body posture allowing the shoulders to roll forward and in. This stress weakens and destabilized the joint.

How it can be treated depends on severe the tear is. An MRI will be the best diagnostic test to see exactly were the tear is and how much is involved. Conservative treatment involves using passive modalities to reduce inflammation and pain as well as exercise to strengthen the muscles of the joint.

Cold Laser Therapy: Low-level lasers are used to reduce inflammation, which is often a significant cause of shoulder pain.

Myofascial Release, or MFR, is a chiropractic treatment that reduces pressure from joints and muscles in the shoulder, allowing for significant pain relief and improvement of mobility. Active Release Technique provides the best range of motion to the muscles.

Joint Mobilization and Manipulation helps the spine maintain alignment and improve movement of the shoulder joint.

Kinesiotaping : This method of taping helps with edema and improves strength and function of the joint.

If the tear is significant surgical intervention is also an option.

I recovered fully with conservative care for 2months. I do have some “clicks” at the joint now and then. Plus I have learned that “breathing into” pain may not be a good idea!