Shoulder Bursitis
What is it?
There are 160 bursae in the body. A bursa is a tiny fluid-filled sac that functions as a cushion and a smooth gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The major bursae are located adjacent to the tendons near the large joints, such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.

Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. The shoulder’s subacromial bursa is the largest bursa in the body and is susceptible to bursitis. It is located below a part of the shoulder blade called the acromion (hence the name subacromial). If this bursa becomes inflamed it is called shoulder bursitis or subacromial bursitis.

The shoulder’s soft tissue structures (non-bone structures), such as muscles, ligaments, tendons and bursae, are packed closely together, so their health is interdependent. If one becomes damaged others are likely to follow. Therefore, shoulder bursitis can be the result of other shoulder problems as well as the cause of new problems. See rotator cuff, shoulder impingement and frozen shoulder.
Shoulder Bursitis
What are the symptoms?
  • Shoulder pain. Early in the course of bursitis development, patients may feel mild shoulder pain when lifting the arms overhead. This pain may gradually increase over time and eventually pain may be felt even at rest.

  • Pain that is worse after repetitive activity. The pain may intensify after prolonged repetitive shoulder movements, such as painting, throwing a ball, or playing tennis.

  • Shoulder tenderness. The outer shoulder may be tender and sensitive to pressure. Lying down or putting pressure on the affected side is often uncomfortable.

  • Radiating pain. Initially, the pain is located at the outside of the shoulder at the very top of the arm, but as symptoms progress, the pain may radiate down the outside of the arm (though almost never past the elbow).

  • Muscle weakness. As the condition gets worse, the affected shoulder may become weaker.

  • Pain at extreme range of motion. As symptoms progress it may become difficult to reach behind the back to put on a coat or zip a dress.

  • Fever and shoulder redness and warmth. People with septic shoulder bursitis, in which the bursa is infected, will experience the symptoms listed above and may also feel tired, feverish, and sick and notice warmth and redness at the shoulder. Septic shoulder bursitis is serious and requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection into the bloodstream.
Shoulder Bursitis
What causes it?
Shoulder injury or trauma
Falling or banging the shoulder on a hard surface could cause the bursa to fill with blood and its lining to become inflamed. Even though the body reabsorbs the blood, the bursa lining may stay inflamed, causing bursitis symptoms. This is called traumatic bursitis.

Repetitive pressure on the shoulder 
Most often shoulder bursitis is caused by frequent “mini-traumas,” which can cause the same problems as a single, more serious trauma. People who must lift their arms overhead for work or sports are more prone to developing shoulder bursitis over time. People at a higher risk of developing shoulder bursitis include painters, wallpaper hangers, tennis players, swimmers and golfers.

Other conditions
A number of health conditions can sometimes cause a bursa to become inflamed. These include:
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Scleroderma and Lupas (connective tissue disorders causing hardening)
  • Infection from bacteria (can cause septic bursitis)
Shoulder Bursitis
Treatment at Hand Kinetics
As bursitis can be result of over use the initial treatment will involve rest and an analysis of the kinds of activities you usually do to see in any of them are aggregating the condition.
It may be necessary to avoid activities that will aggravate and inflame the shoulder bursa, such as throwing, lifting, pushing, and pulling.
In some cases taping the shoulder to support it during movement can help.

Hand therapy. 
At Hand Kinetics you can expect an analysis of your working posture to see if it can be improved to prevent recurrence of bursitis. Making slight modifications to how you perform repeated activities can help to treat the current condition and also prevent future problems.

You may have been prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and cream from your GP which will also help to alleviate pain.

Please talk to our principal therapist at Hand Kinetics to discuss your specific needs and shoulder problem before making an appointment and we will be happy to discuss treatment options with you.

Hand Kinetics Telephone: 0044 28 417 72301

15 The Avenue, Burren, Warrenpoint. Co. Down. BT34 3XJ

0044 28 4176 7238
Find us on FaceBook