Subscapularis Pain: Causes and Treatments

Have you been experiencing pain in your shoulder that just won’t go away? It could be subscapularis pain. The subscapularis muscle is located in the shoulder blade and plays a crucial role in arm movement and rotation. When this muscle gets injured or inflamed, it can cause persistent shoulder pain. In this blog post, we will explore what subscapularis pain is, the anatomy of the subscapularis muscle, symptoms of tendinopathy, diagnostic tests available for diagnosis, causes of tendinopathy, and treatment options available for relief. Whether you are an athlete or not, if you have experienced any discomfort in your shoulder area lately, keep reading to learn more about subscapularis pain and how to alleviate it.


What is Subscapularis Pain?

Subscapularis pain is discomfort in the muscle located in the shoulder blade area. It can be caused by excessive use, strain, or injury. Symptoms include weakness, limited range of motion, and pain. Treatment options involve rest, ice application, physiotherapy, and medication.

Anatomy of the Subscapularis Muscle

Located in the shoulder area, the subscapularis muscle is a crucial component of the rotator cuff muscles responsible for internal rotation of the shoulder joint. Arising from the scapula and inserting into the humerus bone’s lesser tubercle, lesser tubercle of the humerus, dysfunction of this muscle due to overuse or injury can lead to tightness or tenderness in front of the shoulder or armpit. physiotherapy modalities like stretching exercises or massage therapy can help alleviate subscapularis-related shoulder pain by improving range of motion and blood flow to affected areas. The brachial plexus is closely related to the subscapularis muscle and can also be affected by subscapularis dysfunction.

Role of the Subscapularis Muscle in Shoulder Rotation

The subscapularis muscle plays a crucial role in stabilizing and internally rotating the shoulder joint as one of the four rotator cuff muscles. Dysfunction caused by its injuries or strains leads to subscapularis pain accompanied by limited range of motion. Rest coupled with physiotherapy forms an effective treatment plan for subscapularis pain. However, surgery may be necessary in severe cases.


Symptoms of Subscapularis Tendinopathy

Individuals with subscapularis tendinopathy may experience a variety of symptoms including pain in the front of the shoulder or upper arm, weakness in the shoulder or arm when lifting or reaching, limited range of motion in the affected shoulder, tenderness when palpating the subscapularis muscle, and difficulty sleeping on the affected side due to discomfort. These symptoms can occur due to inflammation or dysfunction of the subscapularis tendon and may be triggered by repetitive actions such as throwing. Massage therapy and exercises that stretch and strengthen rotator cuff muscles like supraspinatus and infraspinatus can help alleviate these symptoms.

Causes of Subscapularis Tendinopathy

Injuries to the subscapularis muscle, one of the rotator cuff muscles that aid shoulder rotation, can cause subscapularis tendinopathy, a type of sports injury. Along with pain in the front of the shoulder or upper arm, this condition may also result in weakness while lifting/ reaching objects and limited range of motion. Poor posture/lifting techniques, overuse/repetitive strain injuries are primary causes. It may also arise due to underlying ailments like diabetes/thyroid dysfunction. physiotherapy/rest/surgery are effective treatments for subscapularis tendinopathy.

Diagnostic Tests for Subscapularis Pain

Several tests are available to diagnose subscapularis pain. These include imaging tests like MRIs, ultrasounds, and X-rays. The source of the pain can also be identified through physical examinations. Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) can determine if there is any nerve damage causing the pain. Arthroscopy can also help in diagnosing and treating subscapularis insertion pain. The joint capsule should be examined during arthroscopy to determine if there is any damage or inflammation. Treatment options should depend on the underlying cause of the condition as suggested by diagnostic tests.

Medical Tests for Subscapularis Tendinitis Diagnosis

Diagnosing subscapularis tendinitis involves medical tests such as MRI, ultrasound, and X-rays. MRI provides detailed images of soft tissue structures while ultrasound detects inflammation in the subscapularis tendon. X-rays help rule out similar conditions. Diagnosis also involves a physical examination by a healthcare provider, which is crucial for detecting tenderness and palpating the affected arm. (83 words)

Physiotherapy Tests for Subscapularis Pain Diagnosis

Physiotherapy tests are an effective way to diagnose subscapularis pain, including subscapularis tear. The severity of an injury can be assessed by these tests that evaluate shoulder function. Two commonly used tests are the lift-off test and the belly press test. While performing a lift-off test, you have to lift your arm behind your back to check for internal rotation. A belly press test involves pressing your hand against your stomach while pushing outward to check for strength. You can improve range of motion and strengthen your muscles with physiotherapy exercises.


Treatment Options for Subscapularis Tendinitis

Rest and ice are two effective ways to manage inflammation and pain caused by subscapularis tendinitis. physiotherapy exercises can also help improve your shoulder’s strength and flexibility. Anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injections can reduce pain and inflammation. Surgery is only recommended in severe cases of subscapularis tendinitis. Adopting a good posture, regularly stretching your muscles, and avoiding repetitive overhead motions can prevent future instances of this shoulder blade ailment.

Massage Therapy for Subscapularis Pain Relief

Relief from subscapularis pain is possible through massage therapy that targets muscle tension and trigger points. By using techniques like deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy, a trained massage therapist can enhance blood flow to the affected area and encourage healing while promoting relaxation. To ensure safe treatment for subscapularis pain, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before seeking out a qualified massage therapist. Palpation is an important technique used by massage therapists to identify areas of tension and trigger points in the subscapularis muscle.

Exercise Therapy for Subscapularis Tendinopathy

Exercise therapy is an effective treatment for subscapularis tendinopathy. The therapy involves internal rotation of the upper arm bone around the shoulder joint with the elbow close to the body; scapula stabilization by keeping the shoulder blade down and back while lifting the arm; and finally external rotation to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles that help in shoulder function. Moreover, stretching exercises can help reduce tightness and improve flexibility in the front of the shoulder or in other parts such as forearm or wrist pain. It is important to work with a physical therapist who will design a tailored exercise program to improve your range of motion around the affected arm without causing severe pain. The supraspinatus tendon is one of the four rotator cuff tendons that attach to the humerus bone and help in shoulder movement. The tendon insertion is a crucial part of the shoulder joint and should be taken care of properly during exercise therapy.

Recovery Time for Subscapularis Tendinitis

Recovery time for tendinitis in the subscapularis muscle can vary depending on injury severity. Rest, ice, physiotherapy, and medication are commonly used treatment options for tendonitis, while surgery may be necessary for severe cases. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help prevent future injuries to the subscapularis tendon in the shoulder joint. Consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. In some cases, tendinitis can lead to a rupture of the tendon, which can require more extensive treatment and recovery time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common causes of subscapularis pain?

Subscapularis pain can result from overuse or strain during activities like lifting, throwers, throwing, or reaching. Poor posture and shoulder alignment, as well as rotator cuff injuries or tears, can also be causes. Additionally, shoulder impingement syndrome may contribute to subscapularis pain.

Where can I find physiotherapy near me?

To find physiotherapy in your area, you can use online directories or ask for recommendations from your doctor or insurance provider. Consider reading reviews from previous patients to ensure you choose a reputable clinic that meets your needs.

Where can I find sports massage near me?

To find a sports massage nearby, search for it on search engines or map services. Check online reviews and ratings to ensure the therapist’s reputation. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for recommendations. Cost, location, and availability are important factors to consider when selecting a therapist.


Subscapularis pain is a common condition that can affect anyone. The subscapularis muscle plays a crucial role in shoulder rotation and can cause severe discomfort when it is injured or inflamed. To diagnose this condition, you may need to undergo specific medical tests or physiotherapy tests. Depending on the severity of the issue, various treatment options are available, including massage therapy, exercise therapy, or surgery. However, recovery time may vary depending on the extent of the injury and the treatment chosen. If you are experiencing any symptoms of subscapularis tendinopathy, seek professional help as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

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