What Is Shoulder Bursitis?

Article by John Ferguson

What is Shoulder Bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis is a common complaint among people of all ages. Shoulder bursitis can occur following acute shoulder trauma, but it is more consistently due to overuse and suboptimal biomechanics. Bursa is a fluid-filled sac-like structure that rests wherever there may be friction between soft tissue and bone. The subacromial bursa, which rests between the humerus and the ceiling of the shoulder joint, can become irritated when tight or weak rotator cuff muscles cause the humerus’s head to infringe on it during arm movements. Known as an impingement, this pattern, coupled with repeated overhead arm movement, can cause the subacromial bursa to become inflamed and painful.

Once irritated, shoulder bursitis can result in considerable pain and restriction, which can be felt down the arm and traditionally aggravated by overhead activities.

Positively, despite the pain and disability associated with shoulder bursitis, often it does not coincide with the need for surgical management. Indeed, research suggests that most people respond well to a simple home exercise program and rest from aggravating activities.

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