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Shoulder Bursitis – Causes, Symptoms and Exercises

Bursitis of the shoulder is an inflammation of the shoulder joint that leads to severe pain and discomfort. It can be treated with rest and simple exercises so as to heal within a few months.
Bursae are sacs that are filled with liquid substances present between the tissues like bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. They act as a cushion and reduce friction between the two structures. This nature and function of the bursa prevents irritation and make the joint move smoothly without causing any pain. Therefore any irritation to the bursa can cause inflammation termed as bursitis. Irritation to the bursa and causing inflammation is a vicious cycle as inflammation itself can again lead to more irritation and more inflammation and increasing severity of the symptoms. Hence seeking medical attention, in this case, is very necessary. To know if you are suffering from the condition or not, you need to understand the symptoms and causes.

Common causes for shoulder bursitis

  • Any trauma to the shoulder can irritate the bursae and causes inflammation to it.
  • Patients with pre-existing medical conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and uremia, who are more prone to swelling up of joints, it can also lead to inflammation of the bursa.
  • Overuse and repetitive injuries to the shoulder
  • Deposition of calcium over the joint structures
  • Impingement of tendons
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Improper or irregular rehabilitation after surgery
  • A weakness of the shoulder and scapular muscles
  • Age-related degenerative conditions
  • Lastly, there is infected bursitis, caused by a bacterial infection condition which needs medical attention.

Bursitis is more commonly seen in people over 30 years of age, and it equally affects males and females.

Common signs and symptoms of shoulder bursitis

  • Swollen joints
  • Redness over the joint
  • Pain in the arm during movement
  • Stiffness in the joint and restricted movements.
  • The pain increases and has a shooting pattern in nature especially when you exercise and exert yourself
  • Muscle weakness around the joint
  • Popping sensation of the scapula
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
After a thorough clinical examination, the doctor or the therapist might ask you to get some diagnostic procedures done just to confirm and correlate with the clinical findings. Ruling out the cause is very important to understand the problems faced by the patient. This also helps in setting the goals for recovery.

Shoulder Bursitis Treatment

The most common treatment for bursitis is steroid injection with or without the use of ultrasound guidance, followed by physical therapy.

Physiotherapy aims to reduce the symptoms, prevent further damage, improve the range of motion and maintain the strength of the muscles and to achieve the full function of the joint.The physiotherapist will give you a proper rehabilitation programme which includes scapular strengthening, posture re-education and core strengthening. Therefore an understanding of the root cause is fundamental in the rehabilitation process.
Adhering to the exercise regime is equally necessary. Bursitis is for sure a condition which can lead to many disorders of the shoulder, but if treated in the right way, it enables you to lead an everyday life and get you back to sports.