What is Shoulder Bursitis

What is Shoulder Bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis occurs when there is inflammation of the bursa causing a reduction in space for the tendons to move. This can lead to an impingement when moving your arm. If there is an issue with the strength/ function of these tendons or muscle dysfunctions that causes the subacromial space to reduce in size, then the bursa can become squashed and inflamed (bursitis). There can also be underlying tendinopathy or tear in one of the four rotator cuff muscles that causes this dysfunctional movement.

A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that helps add fluid to a joint, protects soft tissue structures from bony impingement, and allows tendons and joints to move freely. We all have them – they are good structures to have! There are multiple bursa in your body and your shoulder but the most commonly affected one is the subacromial bursa which sits between your rotator cuff tendons and the acromion (a bone in your shoulder).

Shoulder bursitis is a multifactorial issue and finding the cause of the inflammation is key to improving your symptoms. A thorough assessment by a physiotherapist will allow them to identify the underlying cause and treat the issue rather than only treating the symptoms. A cortisone injection is often recommended but this is a short-term solution and if the underlying cause is not addressed your symptoms will often return.

What are the common symptoms?

Shoulder bursitis generally develops over time, there may or may not be a clear mechanism of injury. Pain is usually felt in the shoulder and can radiate down the arm. It is usually painful to lift your arm out to the side or above your head. It may be painful to lay on that side to sleep.

Treatment for Shoulder bursitis

Treatment generally includes manual therapy techniques to help reduce your pain and improve your motion. You will then be guided through a graduated exercise program to help decrease the inflammation, improve your strength, and correct underlying muscle balance or postural issues contributing to bursitis.

How long will it take to get better?

Shoulder Bursitis can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to treat depending on the severity.

Get in touch and speak with a Newcastle Physio from Bradmeadwow Physiotherapists.