Infraspinatus Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Deep Intense Shoulder Pain

supraspinatus, infraspinatus, intense shoulder pain

Do you have deep, intense shoulder pain in the front of your shoulder that may run down the outside of the arm into the fingers?

Does it hurt when you reach back to your nightstand or put your seat belt on? You may have a hard time reaching for your wallet or zipping your dress…maybe even when you put your arm in your coat. If this sounds like you, you probably have trigger points in your infraspinatus and teres minor.  These two muscles are part of the four rotator cuff muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint along with the subscapularis and supraspinatus.

The teres minor muscle is like a little brother to the infraspinatus so I will talk about them as one. It works in tandem with teres major, infraspinatus muscle, and subscapularis to form a strong supportive structure for the shoulder joint.

The axillary nerve passes through the teres minor muscle and supplies it with motor innervation, while posterior circumflex humeral artery and circumflex scapular artery provide it with blood flow. It is connected to the posterior cord along its entire length and helps in the external rotation of the humerus at its mid position.

The teres minor & infraspinatus are an essential component of the rotator cuff muscles which are responsible for providing stability to the shoulder joint during activities such as reaching out and lifting objects. A strong teres minor muscle can help in preventing shoulder injuries due to overuse or trauma. Proper physical therapy along with exercises targeting this muscle can help strengthen it, improve mobility, and reduce pain in the shoulders.

Causes of Infraspinatus Pain

Do you have shoulder pain and suspect it’s from your infraspinatus or teres minor? You’re not alone. Pain in the two muscles is a common complaint for many people. This is because the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles play an important role in stabilizing the shoulder joint and are easily injured.

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Rotator cuff muscle injuries can range anywhere from sports injuries to wear and tear with age. The older your age the more likely you are to have rotator cuff tears. Tissues become weakened and dehydrated. Smoking and repeated cortisone injections also increase the chances of having a rotator cuff tear.

Chronic tears in this muscle are often caused by repetitive overhead activities like throwing or serving in tennis or volleyball. If left untreated, these tears can cause further damage to the surrounding muscles and joints. That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing any kind of shoulder pain that doesn’t seem to go away after rest or ice therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce inflammation and promote healing faster so you don’t have to live with chronic pain in your shoulder.

Pinched Nerve

Although it’s not common, the suprascapular nerve can become impinged upon by weakened rotator cuff muscles most specifically the infraspinatus muscle.

12 Reasons Why You Have Shoulder Pain


Tendonitis is an overuse injury that results in inflamed tendons. When your tendons are inflamed, you have a greater chance of tearing your tendons.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

This occurs when trigger points in the infraspinatus muscle are what is causing the pain. You will usually have referred pain to other areas of the body. Meaning you can feel pain in other areas than just your rotator cuff muscle. This is the most common cause of pain in this area. The pain may travel down from the shoulder muscle into the arm to create upper arm pain. [12 Reasons You May Have Shoulder Pain]

Symptoms of Teres Minor & Infraspinatus Pain

One of the biggest symptoms of trigger points in the infraspinatus and teres minor is if it hurts your shoulder when you sleep. Laying on it

hurts because you are compressing the trigger points but also not laying on it hurts because it’s putting it at a stretch. Hugging a pillow will help that.

Another symptom is a grinding or catching feeling when you move your shoulder joint. You may also experience weakness and a limited range of motion.

It is common that a client will also have trigger points in the deltoid, supraspinatus muscle, biceps, teres major and latissimus dorsi, as well as the subscapularis and pec major.

How to Help Intense Infraspinatus Muscle Pain

If you suspect a rotator cuff tear, do not stretch it. Avoid doing repetitive things that irritate the infraspinatus muscle such as rolling hair in curlers and reachingmassage therapist fixing infraspinatus pain back to the bedside table. A heating pad on low while you sleep may help you sleep better. If the teres minor muscle or infraspinatus is not torn, you can stretch it daily under a warm shower. One other thing you can do is loosen it by laying on a tennis ball. You may want to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis. They will usually suggest a massage or physical therapy. In some cases, they may suggest corrective surgery.

We can help relieve the intense infraspinatus & teres minor muscle pain with a massage! It usually only takes one or two massages to relieve acute pain. If you have had chronic pain, it will take 5-6 massage treatments. Come see us before visiting a physical therapist! Getting out myofascial trigger points out of the shoulder muscles is our specialty! Give us a call to schedule your appointment or you can schedule online! 614-604-6358



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