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Bursitis of the Shoulder

Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning and reduce friction between bones and soft tissues. With excessive, repetitive use of the shoulder, the bursa can swell and become inflamed, and daily activities – like getting dressed – become difficult. And painful.

What causes Bursitis of the Shoulder?

Bursitis of the shoulder is caused by overuse, injury, or conditions that result in inflammation of the joint. People at risk for shoulder bursitis include, but are not limited to athletes, musicians, and gardeners due to the repetitive motions associated with those activities.

How do you know you have Bursitis of the Shoulder?

The primary symptom of shoulder bursitis is pain on the outside or top of the shoulder. Pain will ocur when:

  • Lifting the arm to the side
  • Pushing on or opening a door
  • Trying to “circle” the arm
  • Lying on the shoulder

Additional symptoms include:

  • Reduced range of movement in the shoulder
  • Swelling and redness around the shoulder

How does OSI fix Bursitis of the Shoulder?

An OSI shoulder specialist will discuss your activities and how you may have developed shoulder bursitis. You will then have a physical exam to determine the extent of your injury and the best course of treatment. Your OSI doctor will do one or more of the following:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will ask about your medical history and any symptoms, then check for tenderness and swelling in the affected area.
  • X-rays: X-rays can detect calcifications in the bursa.
  • MRI: An MRI can confirm the diagnosis of bursitis.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatments for bursitis of the shoulder include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Icing
  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy; available at OSI 

Surgical Treatment

Your OSI orthopedic doctor may suggest surgery for shoulder bursitis if the condition isn’t responding to nonsurgical treatments. Arthroscopy is often the preferred approach.