Shoulder Bursitis

Bursitis of the Shoulder

What is it? A bursa is a tiny fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The plural of bursa is bursae. There are 160 bursae in the body. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. When injury or inflammation of a bursa around the shoulder joint occurs leading to a bursitis of the shoulder .

Statistics: The last statistic I looked at I believe was from 2003 and there was at that time in the United States 14 million people who suffer from shoulder problems.

Important Facts:

You may have tendinitis (inflamed tendons) and bursitis of the shoulder at the same time. Your bursitis may be part of a problem called shoulder impingement (im-PINJ-ment).

Older age is associated with bursitis, and one of the most common places it strikes is in the shoulder, which has the greatest range of motion of all the body’s major joints. The pain is generally felt along the outside top of the shoulder. The discomfort of bursitis tends to be most severe after a night’s sleep and will typically subside somewhat with normal activity. Other places that are prone to bursitis are the elbows, hips, knees, and the base of the thumb.

Statistics: 8-13% of all sports injuries involve shoulder pain. 35% of elite swimmers reporting shoulder pain (swimmer’s shoulder). 52% of badminton players have past or present shoulder pain.

Treatment Duration: Two or three weeks should be enough to recover from mild or moderate bursitis of the shoulder.

Do’s/Don’ts: Take frequent breaks in sports that require repetitive overhead movements. Wear warm upper-body clothing in cold weather. Allow more warm-up time in cold weather. Wear sport-specific protective equipment to protect the shoulder against blunt forces.

Keep pressure off your shoulder. You may be told to avoid lying or sleeping on the shoulder with bursitis. You may be more comfortable sleeping on your back. Also avoid activities that make your shoulder pain worse, such as throwing and overhead reaching and lifting.

Keep your shoulder muscles strong by doing specific and special exercises. Having strong arm, shoulder and back muscles can help support your shoulder. A knowlegable sports physical therapist can help you plan an exercise program to build up your muscles and keep them strong.

Common Myths: Bursitis of the shoulder is the most common shoulder problem.

Reality: The term “bursitis” is often used incorrectly by physicians and patients to describe the most common cause of shoulder pain. Rotator cuff tendinitis is actually the most common cause of this complaint not bursitis of the shoulder.