Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa (which is a thin, lubricated cushion located at points of friction between a bone and soft tissue – such as skin, muscles, ligaments and tendons). Bursitis (as well as tendonitis, which is inflammation of a tendon, and presents with symptoms that are very similar to bursitis) can occur in several places in the body, including the shoulder. Bursitis should be officially diagnosed by a medical doctor; however, if you are struggling with shoulder pain, suspect it may be bursitis, and want some insight before your next doctor’s appointment, then keep reading! We’ve laid out four of the most common symptoms and causes of bursitis, and ways to treat it!
- You’re Using Your Shoulder Too Much. Bursitis is an overuse injury, which means that if you use your shoulder too much, the tendons and tissue will start to weaken or inflame. Occupations and sports that involve heavy lifting, throwing, reaching, and other activities involving the arm can contribute to this aggravation.
- You’ve Been Keeping an Improper Posture. Keeping a good posture when sitting, standing, lifting, and any other activity is crucial. The increased pressure that is placed on your spine and tendons when failing to maintain proper posture can cause issues there, but also change the position of the shoulder blades. Repeatedly doing this can lead to irreversible conditions.
A quick note on posture: “Good” posture does not necessarily mean constantly standing or sitting rigidly straight. Different patients have different limits (and a physical therapist will be able to guide you on the correct ways to stand, lift, walk, etc.), but in general, make sure to hold your weight with your legs, keep your neck straight, and relax your shoulders.
- You’ve Been Diagnosed with Arthritis in the Past. The inflammation of the joints associated with arthritis can create pressure on surrounding tendons. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis in the past, and are noticing increased swelling or pain in the same area, it could be bursitis or tendonitis.
- You are Over 40. A day of improper posture or stress on the shoulder will not cause bursitis – but decades can. If you are over 40, then years of stress, use, abuse, and poor posture can contribute to developing degenerative diseases. You may not be able to change the past, but bursitis is treatable! Talk to your doctor for personalized, in-depth treatment options.
What Are the Treatment Options?
If you have (or suspect you have) bursitis, then schedule an appointment with an orthopedist and/or physical medicine specialist. If you do have bursitis, ignoring your symptoms can cause it to worsen, and eventually cause debilitating pain that may not be treatable.
A medical doctor will be able to asses your condition and confirm a diagnosis. If you have bursitis, he or she may recommend physical therapy, ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medications, injections, and (for severe, long-lasting cases) surgery.
Bursitis is a common cause of persistent shoulder pain, and, if left untreated, can cause permanent immobility. If you have stiffness, swelling, or pain in the shoulder or anywhere else, call to schedule an appointment with an orthopedist. ◾
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Roman Shulze
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