Bursitis the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Synovial filled fluid sacs the bursa act as a lubricant allowing muscles and tendons to pass smoothly over bone. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa. Bursitis can occur in any of the joints. For our purposes, we will be focusing on bursitis of the shoulder.

Symptoms of Bursitis of the Shoulder

Bursitis most commonly affects the subacromial bursa located on the shoulder tip. Therefore bursitis pain often presents as discomfort in the tip or perimeter of the shoulder. Limited movement of the shoulder or the shoulder being sensitive to touch is indicative of bursitis.

Raising the arm may trigger pain. Some websites warns that an infected bursa can become septic. If a fever accompanies other symptoms seek medical treatment immediately.

What Causes Bursitis?

Abnormal pressure exerted on the bursa because of a malformed bone or joint can result in bursitis. Bursitis is attributable to other medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Gout
  • Thyroid issues
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reaction to medications

Tendons losing their elasticity because of aging can lead to bursitis. Repetitive motion is the most common cause of bursitis. Not stretching properly before working out can be a contributing factor.

Non-Invasive Bursitis Treatments

The first objective in treating shoulder bursitis is to relieve the inflammation. When bursitis is the result of repetitive motion avoiding the use of the shoulder is indicated. By stretching and strengthening the shoulder muscles physical therapy can ease occurring symptoms and prevent future flare ups.

Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed. NSAIDs can include over the counter remedies like aspirin or Advil. Some NSAIDs are prescription only. If the inflammation is caused by the cox-2 enzyme then a prescription cox-2 inhibitor will be issued.

Ben-Gay and Zostrix are two examples of topical analgesics. Topical analgesics stimulate the nerve endings taking the brain’s focus off of the bursitis pain. Tell your doctor if your stomach is sensitive to oral anti-inflammatories so he or she can order a topical treatment. The Lidocaine patch is available by prescription and prevents the brain from receiving pain signals. Icing and immobilizing the shoulder are potential treatments. Using a syringe your physician may drain excess fluid from the bursa.

Invasive Bursitis Treatment

A bursectomy is the surgical removal of the affected bursa. A traditional bursectomy involves opening the shoulder to expose the bursa. A bursectomy can also be performed via a less invasive arthroscopic procedure that involves inserting a scope through a small incision. In time a new bursa that is less susceptible to bursitis will form.

Shoulder impingement is a pinching of the rotator cuff tendons between the humerus and the highest point of the shoulder the acromion. Impingement may necessitate repairing or reattaching the tendon. In conjunction with a bursectomy, an acromioplasty may be performed. Also known as a subacromial decompression acromioplasty creates more room for the soft tissue of the shoulder.