Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis is a common type of shoulder pain caused by impingement of the bursa between the rotator cuff tendons and the bone. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that reduces the friction in the shoulder joint. There are several bursae in the shoulder, but most often it is the subacromial bursa which can get inflamed.

The Bursa

As mentioned previously the bursa is a fluid-filled sac between the bone and soft tissue of the muscle tendon. It reduces friction between the bone and tendon. This is important to prevent fraying or tears to the tendon.

Shoulder Bursitis

The bursa is located in an area which makes it prone to inflammation or irritation. This is due to the narrow space between the roof of the shoulder and the rotator cuff tendons. When the arm is lifted away from the body the bursa can become compressed in the narrow space and lead to inflammation. This inflammation leads to pain and limited shoulder movement.

The Symptoms of Bursitis

Pain is the main symptom of bursitis. Pain often develops gradually and is usually located on the outside and front of the shoulder. Sometimes the pain can travel down the arm to the elbow or wrist and can be made worse by lying on the affected shoulder.

The Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis can be caused by a few factors. It may be caused by trauma such as a fall, or from overuse of the shoulder joint and muscles from repetitive activities. Some of the causes include:

  • Traumatic injury
  • Systemic disease
  • Repetitive bursal irritation

Certain traumatic injuries can cause shoulder bursitis such as a car accident or a fall. This can result in acute compression of the bursa and cause inflammation. Once inflamed, normal movements can become painful.

Systemic disease is another cause of shoulder bursitis. These are systemic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis which make patients more susceptible to shoulder bursitis.

Repetitive bursal irritation results from repetitive movements which put excessive pressure over time on the bursa. Some of the common activities which can cause this irritation to include: throwing, swimming, paddling, surfing, cricket bowling and water polo. Those with poor posture, weak muscles or poor technique are at a higher risk for developing shoulder bursitis. These can be addressed by a physiotherapist.

Shoulder Physio for Bursitis

Your physiotherapist can identify the underlying causes that have led to shoulder bursitis. A physio will assess shoulder movement, strength, function and posture to provide the best treatment options.

Treatment options for shoulder bursitis will depend on whether it is a chronic or acute condition. For chronic bursitis shoulder physio Perth can help with relief from pain through strength, motion and conditioning. Manual therapy such as dry needling, massage, exercise and shoulder mobilisations techniques may also be used.

Shoulder bursitis is often a secondary condition which is caused by other factors. The best way to address the condition and prevent further problems is to identify and address the underlying cause. A physiotherapist is highly skilled at identifying these factors and helping a patient to recover quickly from shoulder bursitis.