How To Treat Shoulder Bursitis Pain

“Don’t Shoulder Your Bursitis Pain. Get Expert Help”

Did you wake up one morning with an aching shoulder?
Had you been working overhead, which started your shoulder pain?
Do you feel like your shoulder pain is getting worse?

The Shoulder Bursitis Story

One day a friend came to me because she had a swollen shoulder with terrible pain. She was so worried because she couldn’t raise her arm. She asked me if she was having frozen shoulder, so I checked her up.

Before I inspected her shoulder, I asked her what happened. She said that she woke up one morning that week with aching right shoulder. She thought that it would just go away, but it persisted the next day. So she asked her husband to give her shoulder massage hoping to relieve the pain. It got worse the next day. She had more pain the entire shoulder, swollen, and couldn’t raise her arm overhead. She was so anxious because she thought she had a frozen shoulder. Because her shoulder pain started to affect her sleep and work, she asked for help.

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The Assessment

After listening to her story, I checked her movement and strength compared to the opposite side. Then, I did a few tests to figure out the body part affected. The next thing I did was to put light pressure on the tissue. It increased the pain, so I have the impression it’s the bursa. Besides, she was also sleeping on the right side.

Her symptoms indicate that she had an inflamed bursa. She may have irritated it from sleeping on her right side and massaging. She had difficulty raising her arm because of the swollen bursa blocking like a wedge in the shoulder joint. It is also affecting her shoulder tendons, which leads to muscle spasms. That’s why she was having the entire shoulder pain. However, it wasn’t a frozen shoulder!

She started therapy to reduce swelling and inflammation. However, I also referred her to an orthopedic doctor for a further check-up. She continued her treatment and got better after a few weeks.

What Is Shoulder Bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis is an inflamed shoulder bursa. Your bursa contains fluid that lubricates and reduce friction in your shoulder. It also serves as a cushion and absorbs force with shoulder motion.

The bursa lies under the tip of the shoulder as shown in the picture. It is a familiar source of irritation because of its location. The subacromial bursa may get irritated with repeated overhead motion or sleeping on your side.

Signs & Symptoms

1. Shoulder pain & swelling.
2. Disturb your sleep.
3. Worse when you sleep on the affected side due to pressure.
4. Shoulder pain increases when you raise arm due to pressure on the bursa.
5. Pain increases with activities.

The point is pressure on the inflamed bursa leads to pain.

Recovery Guide: Physical Therapy For Shoulder Bursitis

Control the inflammation during the early stage.

  1. Ice for 10-15 minutes
  2. Take over the counter medications such as NSAID.
  3. Protect from further irritation by avoiding sleeping on the side.
  4. Avoid overhead motion that puts pressure on the bursa.
  5. Be careful. Do not to massage the inflamed bursa.

Consult a physical therapist. The relief of pain doesn’t guarantee recovery to normal function. It would be best if you retrain the muscles and motion to return to active duty.

What happen you neglect to treat shoulder bursitis?

  1. It may irritate the tendons around the joint.
  2. May lead to tearing of the rotator cuff.
  3. The muscle weakens and tighten.
  4. Prolonged recovery.

It would be best if you give priority to your health. You can trust us at CT Physical Therapy Care. We love to see you recover and be the best you can be.

All the best.


Disclaimer: The information above is may help you recover but it is not a substitute for you to recover to your maximum function. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.