If you are having pain, loss of strength, or a limited range of motion
such as difficulty raising your arm or shoulder, you may be suffering
from bursitis. A sac-like membrane (bursa) between the rotator cuff and
the shoulder blade cushions and helps lubricate the motion between these
two structures. If there is excessive rubbing or squeezing of the rotator
cuff and shoulder blade, an inflammation of the bursa may result.
Bursitis is a ‘wear and tear’ injury. Those who are most at risk of
developing bursitis in the shoulder include athletes who routinely extend
their arm at high speed, weightlifters, and workers whose job entails
prolonged extension of the arms overhead, such as painters and window
washers. Studies have shown that the incidence of bursitis increases as
we age, but anyone can develop the condition.
The first course of treatment for bursitis is rest. Icepacks may also be
prescribed, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections and
physical therapy. In some cases, a patient may require the temporary use
of a sling. After the inflammation subsides, physical therapy will most
likely be recommended to help strengthen the shoulder.
If these measures fail to provide relief, surgery may be necessary. The
surgical repair can be performed arthroscopically on an outpatient basis.
Extensive physical therapy may be required afterward to strengthen the
shoulder and restore range of motion.
Bursitis rarely gets better on its own. If you suspect bursitis, be sure
you get evaluated as soon as possible; there is no reason you should have
to shoulder the pain.