Bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation to bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs located in between tissue and bone. These sacs decrease friction and irritation in between joints with the help of a lubricating fluid. Bursitis develops most frequently in the shoulders, knees, elbows, and hips. Patients suffering from this condition usually experience the following symptoms:
- Joint stiffness and swelling
- Redness of tenderness around the affected area
- Pain that increases with movement of the affected joint
For shoulder bursitis specifically, patients often report a severe loss of shoulder movement, which is often referred to as frozen shoulder. Over time, pain builds ups gradually and causes the shoulder joint to become immobile from calcium deposits and other factors.
Many patients often wonder how they developed shoulder bursitis in the first place. This condition is typically caused by overuse of the affected joint. In the case of shoulder bursitis, patients who perform repetitive throwing motions frequently are at a much higher risk of developing this condition than those who don’t. Other minor risk factors include:
- Incorrect posture
- Poor stretching and conditioning before exercise
- Poorly-placed bone joint
- Degenerative, inflammatory conditions (i.e. arthritis, gout, thyroid disorders, etc.)
- Reaction to medication
If you’re at risk of developing shoulder bursitis, there are things you can do to prevent the condition. You may want to stretch or complete a warm-up routine before exercising or performing a physical activity to reduce your risk of injury. If you start to experience pain in your shoulder, stop the activity immediately and consult an orthopedic physician before continuing.
Treatment for shoulder bursitis begins with conservative therapies such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation (i.e. R.I.C.E. method). If that fails to provide relief, steroid injections may be considered along with physical therapy. Finally, surgery may be recommended to patients who do not experience adequate relief from the therapies mentioned above.
During surgery, the bursa is removed so a new bursa can develop in its place. The procedure has a low risk of complication and patients can be back on their feet within a few days. Other surgeries may include a tendon and muscle repair, or subacromial decompression. The purpose of these procedures is to repair or remove impingements around the affected bursa.
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The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.