Shoulder bursitis isn’t a specific diagnosis but rather a cluster of symptoms describing a more complex problem in the shoulder.
Shoulder bursitis affects the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that lies on the top of the tendons in the shoulder, between the bones. Its purpose is to reduce friction between moving parts of the body.
There are six bursae in each shoulder. However, there are also bursae in the knees, hips, and anywhere you have tendons.
Below, Dr. Bonaventure Ngu, our specialist at Premier Spine Institute, explains when shoulder bursitis can heal on its own and when it’s time for medical intervention.
Typically, overuse causes shoulder bursitis, but sometimes, arthritis or an infection can be the culprits. Overuse can occur if you have bad posture (rounded shoulders), work certain manual labor jobs, lift heavy weights over the head, or participate in certain sports.
Bursitis pain appears in the morning; it’s dull and typically gets better as you move your shoulder.
It worsens with overhead movements, and you may feel discomfort when applying pressure on the area or lying on your shoulder. You may also notice some mild swelling and redness in your shoulder.
If your bursitis is mild, it may go away on its own. You can speed up the healing process by alternating rest periods with stretches that open up the shoulder joint. Opening the area reduces compression on the bursa and diminishes pain and inflammation.
A good exercise for relieving the bursa involves standing up with your shoulders straight and squeezing your shoulder blades together. About 8-10 repetitions a couple of times daily can make a big difference.
Another way you can help your bursitis heal is by taking notice of your posture. If your thumbs point toward each other when you’re standing with your arms at your sides, you have rounded shoulders, increasing your risk for shoulder overuse. You can fix your posture by bringing your chest forward and straightening your shoulders.
A few signs that you may need medical help include pain that doesn’t decrease in severity over time, pain that comes and goes, muscle weakness, fever, and chills.
If you’re worried about your shoulder pain, get peace of mind by scheduling an appointment. Dr. Ngu will review your medical records, examine your shoulder, and create a personalized treatment plan for quick relief.