Shoulder Bursitis

What Is It?

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sack which stops two structures rubbing on each other. For example in your shoulder you have many bursae between tendons and bone or muscle and bone. If a bursa is irritated eg by falling on your shoulder, the bursa gets inflamed and causes pain with movements around the area.

What causes bursitis?

As mentioned bursitis is commonly caused by a direct fall or impact onto the shoulder. The trauma causes inflammation and swelling in the bursa which fills up the joint space where tendons normally slide and move. The inflamed bursa can cause impingement of tendons against the bone as the arm is moved which is painful and can weaken the shoulder.

What does it feel like?

A common description of bursitis is a constant ache with increased pain if lying on shoulder, leaning on hand or moving shoulder out to the side through a painful arc. You may also experience sharp pain with certain angles if there is other associated shoulder pathology e.g. rotator cuff injury. It is common to get pain during the night and stiffness in the mornings with shoulder bursitis.

How is it diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can diagnose your shoulder injury from your symptoms, mechanism of injury and also with some simple tests. If your injury is severe we may need to refer you for an X-ray and/or ultrasound to determine the extent of your injury.

How can Back in Action Physiotherapy help?

At Back in Action we will talk to you and listen to how your pain is affecting your everyday activities. We can help regain movement in your neck, back and shoulder with mobilisations, massage, acupuncture and stretching thus taking the load off the shoulder allowing it to heal.  A progressive strengthening programme is vital for regaining full function in your shoulder so we will create a personalised strengthening programme for you including scapula retraining and shoulder strengthening. Painkillers and Anti-inflammatories can help to relieve the pain of bursitis and we recommend you see your local Pharmacist or Doctor regarding the best type for you. We can discuss options with you including conservative rehabilitation and/ or cortisone injection if required.