What is shoulder bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis is a condition characterised by the inflammation of the bursa located in the shoulder joint. It can cause pain, limited range of motion, and discomfort. In this blog post, we will explore what a bursa is, the causes of shoulder bursitis, its symptoms, diagnostic procedures, treatment options, and exercises that can help manage the condition.

Causes of shoulder bursitis

Shoulder bursitis can occur due to various factors, including:

• Overuse or repetitive movements: Activities involving repetitive overhead movements, such as throwing, lifting, or painting, can lead to irritation and inflammation of the bursa.

• Trauma or injury: Direct impact or trauma to the shoulder joint can cause bursitis.

• Muscle imbalances: Imbalances in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint can put excessive stress on the bursa, leading to inflammation.

• Aging and degeneration: As we age, the bursae may become less resilient, increasing the likelihood of bursitis.

Symptoms of shoulder bursitis?

Common symptoms of shoulder bursitis may include:

• Pain: Individuals may experience a dull, achy pain in the shoulder joint or upper arm.

• Limited range of motion: Bursitis can restrict the movement of the shoulder, making it difficult to raise or rotate the arm.

• Swelling and tenderness: The affected area may appear swollen and feel tender to the touch.

• Weakness: Weakness in the shoulder muscles may be experienced, making it challenging to perform certain tasks.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Bursitis

To diagnose shoulder bursitis, healthcare professionals may perform the following:

• Physical examination: The healthcare provider will assess the range of motion, strength, and tenderness in the shoulder joint.

• Medical history: They will inquire about symptoms, potential causes, and any previous shoulder injuries or conditions.

• Imaging tests: X-rays or ultrasound imaging may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of shoulder pain and to evaluate the bursa and surrounding structures.

Treatment of Shoulder Bursitis

Treatment options for shoulder bursitis aim to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and restore shoulder function. Some common approaches include:

• Rest and activity modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms and allowing the shoulder to rest and heal.

• Ice and heat therapy: Applying ice packs to reduce inflammation and heat therapy to improve blood circulation and promote healing.

• Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.

• Physical therapy: Targeted exercises and stretches prescribed by a physiotherapist can strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve range of motion, and alleviate symptoms.

• Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections into the bursa can provide short-term relief by reducing inflammation.

Exercises for Shoulder Bursitis

Exercise can play a vital role in the rehabilitation of shoulder bursitis. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified physiotherapist before attempting any exercises. Some beneficial exercises may include:

• Pendulum exercises: Gently swing the affected arm in a circular motion, allowing it to hang freely, to improve shoulder mobility.

• Shoulder blade squeezes: Sit or stand upright and squeeze the shoulder blades together, holding for a few seconds before releasing.

• External rotation with resistance band: Attach a resistance band to a stable object and hold the other end with the affected hand. Keeping the elbow bent, rotate the arm outward against the resistance of the band.

• Shoulder stretches: Perform gentle stretches to improve flexibility and range of motion, such as cross-body stretches or wall stretches.

• Scapular strengthening exercises: Engage in exercises that target the muscles around the shoulder blades, such as scapular retractions or shoulder shrugs.

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