shoulder conditions

Bursitis Shoulder

It is a debilitating condition that affects people of all ages, especially the elderly. People in their middle age and older, as well as those with muscle weakness, are more likely to develop the condition. Shoulder bursitis can be caused by a variety of things, but the most common is pressure in the upper shoulder area associated with repetitive movements such as upward reaching, throwing, or arm twisting. When throwing, pitching, or swimming repeatedly, athletes are more likely to get shoulder bursitis. 

Depending on the severity, the problem may develop gradually over time or as a result of an underlying autoimmune disorder. It can sometimes happen for no apparent reason. It is possible that physical therapy will help relieve the symptoms of shoulder bursitis such as swollen and painful joints and stiffness in the arm, neck and upper back. 

 If you have shoulder bursitis, physical therapy can help you feel better by reducing the stiffness and soreness you’re in the area as well as strengthening your arm, neck, and upper back muscles.

Shoulder impingement, tendonitis, and bursitis are all possible outcomes of overuse injuries. Physical therapy for these shoulder conditions is often recommended.

What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is bursa inflammation. It causes pain, redness, and swelling. A bursa is a sac-like structure found everywhere there is friction, such as between skin and bones, tendons and bones, or ligaments and bones. In other words, they reduce friction between hard bone and soft tissue.

A bursa is generally very thin and invisible. It reacts to too much friction by becoming inflamed or irritated. The bursa thickens and generates fluid to create extra cushion. It might be thin (like tissue paper) or thick and bumpy (like corrugated cardboard). The bursa might be huge if it produces a lot of fluid. It can be infected by bacteria and become an infected bursa. It’s hard to tell an inflamed bursa from an infected bursa (irritated with infection or bacteria present).

Causes of Shoulder Bursitis

Bursitis can be caused by numerous factors, but the most common is too much tension on the bursa. Bursal irritation falls into three categories. 

Chronic bursitis

Chronic bursitis can be caused by a number of reasons. The most prevalent kind, caused by repeated bursa irritation. Inflammation develops for no obvious cause in most patients with this kind. It occurs when the bursa swells due to an underlying medical issue. This form of bursal swelling can be caused by gout, pseudogout, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, uremia, and other disorders.

Infected bursitis

While it’s uncommon, the bursa gets bacterially contaminated. If the illness spreads, it might be fatal.

Traumatic bursitis

Commonly observed in athletes (or acute traumatic bursitis). It is the least frequent of the three. It’s caused by rubbing an extremity against a rough surface or overbending a joint. Bursitis can be caused by overuse injuries where repetitive movements are involved, like when you are painting or playing golf, tennis, baseball. It can be triggered by minor trauma too, such as kneeling for an extended period of time, or by bad posture, which puts pressure on the bursa.

Note that bursitis is frequently confused with arthritis since both illnesses induce joint pain. There are other varieties of arthritis that induce joint inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis’s inflammatory reaction or degenerative arthritis’s breakdown of cartilage in the joints.

Symptoms of Bursitis Shoulders

  • Pain when moving or pressing the affected area 
  • Pain limits your range of motion
  • Pain that feels like swelling
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • If you have an infected bursa, you may get symptoms such as redness, warmth, fever, and chills.

An X-ray image showing bursitis in the shoulder
Image by Wikipedia Commons

Physical Therapy for Bursitis Shoulder

Aside from physical exams, x-ray or MRI scan, testing of bursa fluid is another way to diagnose bursitis. Fluid from the bursa can be extracted and examined to determine if the bursa is infected or irritated due to excessive friction.

Your physical therapist will collaborate with you to develop a customized treatment regimen that will speed up your recovery. 

Home Remedies:

Rest is one of the primary treatments. Restricting shoulder mobility helps cure the bursa by preventing it from being inflamed further. A brace for the shoulders may be beneficial. Gentle shoulder exercises, together with rest, can help keep the joint from getting stiff.

If bursitis is caused by an injury or overuse, it can be treated with an ice pack for the first five days after the event or the onset of symptoms.

You will be taught with home workouts and elevation techniques to help you recover faster. Even though the length of time it takes to repair the issue varies, when a suitable stretching and strengthening program is followed, benefits are usually attained within 2 to 8 weeks after starting the program.


Your physical therapist will also prescribe anti-inflammatories. If symptoms persist,he may inject corticosteroids into the bursa. This relieves swelling and pain. The benefits may be transitory, but the treatment is repeatable.