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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 it?

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 athletes, musicians, and gardeners.

How do you know you have it?

The primary symptom of shoulder bursitis is pain, on the outside or top of the shoulder. It will also present 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 we fix it

The OSI team of shoulder specialists can help you with bursitis. We are here to work with you to develop an effective treatment plan:

  • 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

Surgical Treatment

Surgery for shoulder bursitis is sometimes considered when the condition isn’t responding to nonsurgical treatments. Arthroscopy is often the preferred approach.

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