Supraspinatus Muscle

Supraspinatus Muscle: Anatomy & Function

Supraspinatus Muscle: Anatomy & Function

Sports fans are mostly familiar with rotator cuff muscles, a group of four minor muscles present in the shoulder that help the shoulder to stabilize the joint. Among these four rotator cuff muscles, the Supraspinatus Muscle is the smallest one that holds the bones of the shoulder in their proper positions.

This muscle is located in the posterior region of the scapula that extends from the supraspinous fossa of the scapula to the proximal humerus deep to the trapezius and makes up the rotator cuff.

Supraspinatus Muscle: Anatomy


The medial third of the scapula’s supraspinous fossa.


The superior facet of the humerus and the shoulder joint capsule.

Blood Supply

Suprascapular Artery


Suprascapular Nerve ( C5, C6)

Supraspinatus Muscle: Origin & Insertion

Among the four rotator cuff muscles, the supraspinatus is the most superior. This small triangular muscle is attached to the posterior scapula. The fossa arises on the supraspinous medial feature, which is an excavated recession above the scapular spine.

An inferior tendon connects the muscle fibers to the acromion of the scapula. It embeds onto the superior tubercle of the humerus’ greater facet after passing over the glenohumeral joint.

Supraspinatus Muscle: Blood supply & Innervation

In the supraspinatus, the suprascapular artery supplies arterial blood, which is an offshoot of the thyrocervical trunk of the subclavian artery. The suprascapular artery and suprascapular nerve pass through the suprascapular notch to give the blood to the supraspinatus.

In some cases, supraspinatus collect a collateral blood supply from the dorsal scapular artery. The veins accompanying the arteries carry venous drainage (drains into the subclavian vein).

Supraspinatus Muscle: Action

  • Shoulder Stability: Supraspinatus is a member of the Rotator Cuff that protects the shoulder joint from gravitational forces caused by the pressure of the upper limb. Additionally, it balances the shoulder joint by keeping the head of the humerus tightly pressed as opposed to the scapula’s glenoid fossa.
  • Active Movement: The supraspinatus muscle is thought to be crucial for shoulder abduction.

Supraspinatus Muscle: Injuries & Pain

Supraspinatus muscle injuries can occur suddenly, such as when you fall on your extended arm. It can also develop gradually due to monotonous movements or age-related deterioration. Rotator cuff injuries will result in pain, weakness and may critically restrict your shoulder’s mobility.

The supraspinatus muscle and tendon are located at the back of the shoulder. A rupture or tear of the supraspinatus tendon and tendonitis are common problems. Injuries or pain in this region are highly troublesome, not just for a sportsman but also for everyone.

Whether fling a football, wearing a shirt, or untangling your hair, shoulder injury influences a nearly endless list of everyday activities.

Supraspinatus Muscle Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Supraspinatus Muscle Pain Causes:

These are the following supraspinatus injuries:  

  • Supraspinatus Tendinopathy refers to ache in or around the tendons caused by:
  • Degenerative changes that occur with age
  • Excessive use of muscle
  • Repetitive movements
  • Trauma
  • Supraspinatus Impingement: The acromion (top of the shoulder) rubs in oppose to the tendon and bursa, causing the rotator cuff to be irritated. Subacromial impingement syndrome (SAIS) is the most common shoulder disorder that is thought to be responsible for 44-64 percent of all shoulder pain.
  • Bursitis: It is a fluid that accumulates in the rotator cuff’s bursa and causes swelling.
  • Partial Tears: There is damage or fraying to the tendon, but the muscles get not separated from the bone.
  • Complete Tear: The tendon is entirely detached from the bone.
  • Osteophytes: It can occur when the supraspinatus tendons rub against the shoulder bones. 

Supraspinatus Muscle Pain Symptoms:

Symptoms of supraspinatus injuries vary from person to person. These may include:

  • Pain in the shoulder area.
  • Have trouble moving your arm during daily activities, such as combing your hair.
  • Shoulder stiffness or weakness.
  • Difficulty in sleeping on the affected side due to increased pain at night.
  • Hear popping and cracking sounds while moving your arm.

A rotator cuff injury may not be painful for some people, but the degeneration can occur slowly with the condition.

Supraspinatus Muscle Pain Treatment:

Injuries to the shoulder and supraspinatus muscles are commonly treated with:

  • Rest: The first sign of shoulder pain and upper arm requires rest. It would be best to avoid activities that cause pain to reduce inflammation and alleviate the affected area.
  • Ice Therapy: Apply ice to the injured area with a 20-minute gap throughout the day to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication: Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Midol, Aleve) are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications that help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • EPAT Therapy: It is a non-interfering and reforming treatment that uses pressure waves for deep muscle invigoration to increase circulation, reduce swelling, and heal the muscle. The EPAT treatment is excellent for recovering from a shoulder injury. EPAT Therapy has been used by many NFL and NBA teams and players for shoulder and rotator cuff injuries and many different types of damage to speed up their recovery times.
  • Kinesiology Tape: KT Tape is a sturdy adhesive tape that may provide some relief to shoulder pain; it is also referred to as Kinesiology Tape. KT Tape can support your body during physical therapy or after a period of recovery. You can also use it during rest and in activity modification to keep your shoulder stable and reduce the amount of motion in your shoulder.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy often involves learning and rehearsing rotator cuff exercises to enhance elasticity and firmness in the upper arm and shoulder during and after the healing process.
  • Corticosteroid Injection: A cortisone steroid injection may be recommended if the pain persists. This procedure can be done in a doctor’s office to help reduce swelling and ache if other treatments do not work. 
  • Surgery: When the supraspinatus tendon or rotator cuff ruptures severely, it may be necessary to undergo rotator cuff surgery. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may require reconnecting the tendon to bone or even a shoulder joint substitution procedure. The recovery time depends on the type of surgery; that could be six months to a year before returning to your normal activity like sports or full-time work. You are strongly recommended to seek immediate medical treatment when the first sign of rotator cuff or shoulder injury appears.


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