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Shoulder Bursitis Treatment

Shoulder Bursitis Treatment

Did you know that shoulder bursitis is the most diagnosed source of shoulder pain on ultrasound and MRI?

If you’ve been diagnosed, you may have also heard your doctor refer to synonymous terms such as shoulder impingement or subacromial bursitis. At Perth Shoulder Physio, we’re regularly asked about the best physio treatment for shoulder impingement and whether subacromial bursitis treatment actually works.

The answer: Our results and scientific research prove that shoulder physio is effective in reducing shoulder pain and improving function.

Perth Shoulder Physio are experts in providing shoulder bursitis treatment in Perth. In fact, we provide more pain relief and physio treatment for shoulder bursitis than any other shoulder injury. So, it’s safe to say we’re the Perth Shoulder Bursitis experts.

Book your shoulder bursitis treatment with an expert at Perth Shoulder Physio today, to see for yourself.

Note: This page contains a relatively simplistic description of shoulder bursitis, which is intended for general education only. For more specific information about subacromial bursitis treatment, book an appointment with Perth Shoulder Physio.

What is Shoulder Bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis is technically a non-specific phrase that describes an inflamed bursa in the shoulder region.

Around 160 bursae (plural for bursa) can be found throughout the body, between structures like bone and tendon. They function to reduce friction, like a plastic sleeve would if you placed it between your hands and rubbed them together. The function of a bursa becomes impaired if it’s inflamed (this is where the ‘itis’ comes in) or swollen, which can be considerably painful.

The most common type of shoulder bursitis is subacromial bursitis, commonly caused by shoulder impingement. The subacromial bursa sits below the acromion (hence the name ‘subacromial’) of the shoulder blade, which forms the roof over the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.

What causes Shoulder Bursitis?

There are two things that cause shoulder bursitis: shoulder impingement and rotator cuff tendinopathy:

Shoulder Impingement

The rotator cuff muscles function to keep the ball of the shoulder centred in its socket when the arm is raised above head. Shoulder impingement occurs when the ball of the shoulder moves abnormally upward and compresses structures like the subacromial bursa and rotator cuff tendons against the acromion above.

Shoulder impingement is the most widely accepted cause of shoulder bursitis.

Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

Rotator cuff tendinopathy rarely exists without some form of shoulder bursitis. An acute overload such as an increase in painting, throwing or weight lifting can cause abnormal swelling of the subacromial bursa and rotator cuff tendons.

This common cause of shoulder pain requires specific rotator cuff exercises and shoulder bursitis treatment.

What are the symptoms of Shoulder Bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis causes an aching pain over the outer aspect of the upper arm.

The pain is typically worse when raising the arm above your head and lying on the shoulder. Resting the arm by the side of the body typically eases the pain.

How is Shoulder Bursitis treated?

This section includes general advice on shoulder bursitis treatment that may benefit you.

Unless the cause of the problem is rectified, shoulder bursitis often recurs. This is why it’s important to seek treatment early.

Perth Shoulder Physio have the knowledge and experience to determine the cause of your shoulder pain and implement a shoulder bursitis treatment plan directed towards your individual circumstances.

Physiotherapy treatment for Shoulder Bursitis includes a range of options depending on the severity of your condition.

If your acute shoulder bursitis can be attributed to a recent increase in shoulder activity, then treatment may include:

  • Massage and dry needling for pain relief and muscle tension
  • Taping of the shoulder for pain relief and improved function
  • Short term rest from overhead and repetitive shoulder movements

If your shoulder bursitis is chronic, it may not have an easily identifiable cause and treatment could include:

  • Thorough assessment of your daily activities that may stress the shoulder
  • Physical assessment of the shoulder by an experienced shoulder physio
  • Physical assessment of the neck to determine its effect on your shoulder pain
  • Massage, dry needling and other manual therapy of the shoulder
  • Correction of postural and shoulder blade abnormalities
  • Shoulder mobility exercises
  • Rotator cuff and other shoulder muscle strengthening exercises

Exercises often contribute a significant component of subacromial bursitis treatment too.

Depending on your individual circumstances, you may require any combination of shoulder mobility, rotator cuff strengthening or scapula strengthening exercises.

Medical treatment may also be required:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cortisone injection into the subacromial bursa if required

Relieve the aching pain of your shoulder bursitis

Is it time to relieve the aching pain of your shoulder bursitis? Ready to have free range of movement again?

Book your treatment today for a personalised treatment plan, to get you on your way to some much-needed pain relief and back to doing all the things you love.


Ready to recover and get pain free?

Your Perth Shoulder Physio is ready to help.