What Is a Supraspinatus Tear?

The supraspinatus is one of the four major tendons and muscles that make up the rotator cuff in the shoulder. This tendon can sometimes become inflamed and tear from overuse or a fall. Consequently, either treatment or surgery is usually necessary for repairing the tendon.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The supraspinatus stretches across the top of the shoulder blade and attaches to top of the humerus or upper arm bone. A tear can result in severe pain when you lift your arm up to the side or if you attempt to throw a baseball, according to the article "Inflammation of the Supraspinatus Tendon" at Sports Injury Clinic.com 1.

Types Of Symptoms

A person with a supraspinatus tear can sometimes feel a tearing sensation when the shoulder is first injured. If not, they usually have limited movement in their affected shoulder and, at times, suffer from severe muscle spasms. It may also be difficult to lift one's arm at all without assistance.


A doctor will usually examine a person's rotator cuff to determine whether an individual needs surgery. If not, tears can heal over time with proper rest, several days of ice treatment, heat and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Effects Of Exercise

Once the initial inflammation and pain have subsided, exercise can help increase mobility and strength in the supraspinatus tendon and rotator cuff. This can increase stability in the shoulder and relieve pressure on the supraspinatus tendon.

Time Frame

If surgery is required, doctors will normally perform either arthroscopic or a more open surgery, depending on the extent of the torn supraspinatus tendon. It will normally take a person four to six months to fully recover from this type of surgery.