What is Shoulder Bursitis?

What is Shoulder Bursitis? hover background

Jan 21

The most common locations for bursitis are found in the shoulder, elbow and hip.  We see shoulder bursitis often at our clinics and know that many suffer from the pain it can cause.  In this blog post we want to explore the symptoms and treatments for shoulder bursitis, a condition that can cause pain at the outer shoulder while your arm is motion.

Shoulder Bursitis—What is it?

You have several bursa in your shoulder.  Bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a gliding surface and helps to reduce friction between tissues in the shoulder.   Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa.  If there is an injury or inflammation of a bursa around or in the shoulder joint, shoulder bursitis is present.

Shoulder Bursitis—The Symptoms

Common symptoms of shoulder bursitis may include:

  • Pain felt on the outside of your shoulder
  • Pain that radiates down your arm towards the wrist or elbow
  • Pain made worse when lying on the affected shoulder or using your arm above your head
  • Painful arc of movement
  • Experiencing shoulder pain during all day-to-day activities such as blow drying or washing hair, reaching up to a high shelf in the pantry, etc.
  • Severe loss of motion in the shoulder

Shoulder Bursitis—The Causes

Shoulder bursitis is most common in adults around the age of 40 and typically caused by one or more of the following:

  • Minor impact to the shoulder or area surrounding it
  • Repetitive motions
  • Age
  • Overuse or injury to the joint
  • High risk activities such as painting, tennis, golf, gardening or carpentry
  • Poor posture
  • Poor stretching or conditioning prior to exercise
  • Arthritis can put added stress on a bursa sac
  • Stress or inflammation from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout
  • An infection may lead to the inflammation of a bursa

Shoulder Bursitis—The Treatment

Shoulder bursitis can be treated in a variety of ways which may include:

  • Resting the affected shoulder
  • Icing the affected shoulder the day of the injury
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Avoiding any activities that may aggravate the pain or injury
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy is used for range-of-motion exercises and strengthening of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint
  • Surgery is rarely needed as an option when bursitis doesn’t respond to other treatment options

If you have shoulder bursitis, don’t put off treatment.  Above & Beyond Physical Therapy can help to reduce swelling, pain and stiffness associated with weakness in your shoulder.  Schedule your appointment today!



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