Exercise for rotator cuff tendinopathy: proposed mechanisms of recovery

Review written by Andrew Cuff info

Key Points

  1. Rotator cuff tendinopathy is defined as persistent tendon pain with associated loss of shoulder function.
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The authors nicely outline how and why they’ve used the term “rotator cuff tendinopathy”. It is clear that ‘impingement’ is not an appropriate diagnostic label due to the lack of evidence from both biomechanical and clinical trials, alongside qualitative evidence suggesting patients are more likely to expect surgery if the term impingement is used (1). Whilst uncertainty exists, the authors propose that rotator cuff tendinopathy, defined as “persistent tendon pain with associated loss of shoulder function” helps in the development of an inclusive model that enables personalized care planning.

The objective of this study was to present a summary of the evidence related to four proposed mechanisms by which exercise may support recovery for those with rotator cuff tendinopathy.

Patients are more likely to expect surgery if the term “impingement” is used for shoulder pain.
In order to address fear avoidance or kinesiophobia, a loaded exercise dosed to minimize any increase in symptoms should be discussed with the patient.


This paper was in the form of a narrative review (2). These are helpful to provide the reader with a broad perspective on a topic, however, do not always include insight into how the evidence used was obtained and selected.

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