Tendons & Tears: Common Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder is a connecting point for bone, muscle, and tendons, which work together to ensure your shoulder has a full range of motion. Overuse, injury, and degeneration can all cause shoulder injury. We’ve selected four shoulder injuries involving tendons and/or tears today to review the causes, symptoms, and treatment options of these similar injuries, so you know what to expect.  

Long Head of Biceps Tendinitis

The bicep muscle is connected to your shoulder bones with tendons. These tendons can become injured through overuse, strain, or trauma. Long head of biceps tendinitis usually begins gradually, becoming steadily more painful as the arm continues to be used. 

Often, long head of biceps tendinitis will heal on its own without surgical intervention. Resting and avoiding using the arm, applying ice, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy with stretching and strengthening exercises can help your bicep tendons return to full strength and health. 

Rotator Cuff Tear

Your rotator cuff is a collection of four tendons gathered around the shoulder joint, “cuffed” as they come together to hold your arm in place. These tendons can tear as a result of degeneration and injury, resulting in a rotator cuff tear. 

For some, symptoms will develop immediately following the tear or will progress gradually. Weakness and tenderness in the shoulder, a popping or crackling sound when moving the shoulder, pain when putting pressure on the shoulder and a notable decrease in the ability to use or move shoulder are all symptoms of a rotator cuff tear. 

A partial tear can be healed through non-surgical means–rest, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs–but full tears often require surgery in order to restore full function and decrease pain. If the tear is too large and chronic, it may be irreparable, and is best treated with conservative methods. 

There is also a new technology that helps heal rotator cuff injuries, which Dr. Bart Eastwood uses for qualifying patients. The REGENETEN Bioinductive Implant is a collagen-based bioinductive implant that is arthroscopically placed and secured onto the injured tendon. The implant stimulates the body’s natural healing response, causing new tissue to grow as the implant is slowly absorbed. The implant serves to augment tissue healing and further strengthen the tendon. When used in conjunction with surgical repairs, it can decrease the chances of the tendon retearing.

Labral Tear

The labrum is a small rim of firm tissue that deepens the shoulder socket and helps stabilize the shoulder joint. A torn labrum is often due to direct injury, such as falling on an outstretched arm. Symptoms vary by severity, but most commonly you’ll feel a sharp catch and/or a popping sensation and the shoulder will feel loose, unstable, and might slip with certain movements

You can treat a labral tear with rest, ice, medication, and physical therapy. Some tears may require minimally-invasive surgery if the conservative treatments do not produce the desired results, in which the labrum is reattached to the bone with anchors. 


SLAP is the shorthand for “superior labrum, anterior to posterior”. This describes the type of tear that has occurred: a tear at the top of the labrum from the front to the back. The top of the labrum is where the biceps tendon connects. For some, a SLAP tear coincides with a biceps tendon injury.  

The symptoms of a SLAP tear are similar to those of other shoulder injuries. Discomfort or pain when moving the shoulder, pain when lifting objects, decreased shoulder strength, instability, and various sensations (locking, popping, catching, or grinding) are all symptoms of a SLAP tear. Because of its symptomatic similarities to other injuries, imaging is often used to properly diagnose. 

Rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy can help heal a SLAP Tear. Certain kinds of SLAP tears can be healed with surgical techniques as well, in which the shoulder is reconstructed and stabilized. 

Because these injuries all exhibit similar symptoms, it’s imperative that you visit us in order to have a proper diagnosis. While each injury may feel similar to the others, the subtle differences in treatment plans can make all the difference. If you suspect you have a shoulder injury, visit our walk-in clinic or make an appointment to speak with one of our experience orthopedicians. 

By |2019-07-12T09:48:17-04:00July 12th, 2019|Blog|