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Muscles of the Rotator Cuff



Supraspinatus Trigger Points - Dr. Jonathan Kuttner MD


Treating the Rotator Cuff


Trigger points in supraspinatus typically cause deep pain in the lateral shoulder, forearm, and wrist

The supraspinatus works in conjunction with the deltoid to produce abduction at the glenohumeral joint.

Because of its insertion superiorly onto the greater tuberosity, the muscle pulls the humeral head into the glenohumeral joint, thereby providing the stability needed while the deltoid (pulling halfway down the humerus) abducts the arm.


Supraspinatus Trigger Points

Supraspinatus - Common Trigger Point Sites





How to Dry Needle the Supraspinatus  - Dr Jonathan Kuttner 




Trigger Point Signs and Symptoms

Deep pain is reported in the lateral shoulder, forearm, and wrist. Radiating pain into the lateral epicondyle can lead to a misdiagnosis of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), while the shoulder pain can be mistaken for bursitis.

Difficulty combing the hair or raising the arm in flexion are signs of the presence of myofascial trigger points.


A member of the rotator cuff, which comprises the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.

The rotator cuff helps hold the head of the humerus in contact with the glenoid cavity (fossa, socket) of the scapula during movements of the shoulder, thus helping to prevent dislocation of the joint.


Supraspinous fossa of scapula.


Upper aspect of greater tubercle of humerus. Capsule of shoulder joint.


Initiates process of abduction at shoulder joint, so that deltoid can take over at later stages of abduction.

Antagonists: infraspinatus, teres minor, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi.


Suprascapular nerve, C4, 5, 6, from upper trunk of brachial plexus.

Basic Functional Movement

Example: holding a shopping bag away from side of body.

Trigger Point Referred Pain Patterns

Belly: deep ache in regimental badge area (4–6 cm). Ellipse leads to zone of pain in lateral epicondyle/radial head. Diffuse pain into lateral forearm.

Insertion: localized zone of pain 5–8 cm over deltoid.


Loss of power in abduction; painful arc syndrome; night pain/ ache; subacromial bursitis; rotator cuff tendinopathy; deep aching in shoulder which can extend to elbow (i.e. tennis elbow) and occasionally to thumb side of wrist; can be confused with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis; pain on initiation of lifting shoulder sideways; inability to reach behind back; clicking/snapping sounds in shoulder joint.

Common Causes

Carrying heavy objects (e.g. bags, laptops, suitcases) over long distances; heavy lifting from floor to trunk of car; carrying with arms above head; sleeping positions with arms above head; dogs pulling on leash; falls on outstretched arm (e.g. skiing), washing/combing hair; moving heavy furniture; repetitive strain injury (RSI); prolonged computer keyboard use.

Differential Diagnosis

Phase 1 capsulitis. C5–C6 radiculopathy. Subacromial bursitis (adhesive). Calcific tendonitis. Calcium boils. Rotator cuff tendinopathy. Biceps tendonitis.


Supraspinatus Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy protocols include compression, deep stroking massage, muscle energy techniques, stretching and medical exercise.


Trigger Point Treatment Techniques

Spray and Stretch YES
Compression YES
Deep Stroking Massage YES
Muscle Energy Techniques YES
Positional Release YES
Dry Needling YES

















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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 




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