Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Bursitis

What is shoulder bursitis?

  • This is an inflammation of the shoulder bursa (subaromial –subdeltoid bursa) which is a soft sac of fluid that lubricates muscles and tendons where they pass close to a bone.
  • It is a structure sandwiched between the cuff muscles and the bony top layer formed by the acromion.

Shoulder Bursitis

What causes this bursitis?

  • This bursa can get inflamed or irritated by over loading or repeating overhead movements. This leads to pain.
  • Poor postures can aggravate an inflamed bursa badly.

What are the main signs and symptoms?

  • Painful to raise the arm mainly sidewards and upwards.
  • Difficulty with over head activities

How do I manage this problem?

  • It is important to keep your shoulder blades pulled back and your posture erect. This takes the pressure off the bursa and nearby structures.
  • You could apply ice packs or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel for a maximum of 15 to 20 mins, 3 to 4 times a day to help ease the pain.
  • Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) can be helpful in the acute painful stages (first 2 weeks) but should not be continued for more than that period if the pain fails to settle down.
  • Gentle shoulder movements within your pain limits would help to maintain joint mobility and help avoid stiffness.
  • Exercises: Please refer to our PDF documents and video links for more advice and self-management on this problem.

What other treatments are available?

  • Physiotherapy would be the first choice of treatment.
  • Steroid injection is recommended if physiotherapy and anti-inflammatories are not helpful.
  • You may require further investigations including X-rays or Ultrasound scans to help in planning further management, including surgery.
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