Shoulder bursitis


Bursitis is the inflammation or irritation of synovial bursa. Bursitis of shoulder joint belongs to pathologies of locmotor system.


Disease diagnostics allows defining of some basic factors, which cause shoulder bursitis:Shoulder Anatomy

  • pathology resulted from traumatizing – injury, wound, strain or maim;
  • regular physical overstressing, due to sports or professional activity;
  • gout or arthritis;
  • metabolism disorder;
  • organism intoxication;
  • chronic allergy;
  • prolonged or excessive stressing of shoulder joint;
  • autoimmune diseases.


Medical studies point out several forms of shoulder joint bursitis. According to the clinical situation of the disease, doctors define:

  • acute bursitis – distinguished by sudden sharp and severe pain during any stress of shoulder joint; characterized by edema, redness and hyperthermia.
  • chronic type of bursitis – thick formation occurs in the shoulder joint, which can be examined by touch; hand functioning is normal, but slight stiffness of shoulder joint is possible.
  • the disease also can be classified according to its specific condition. The disease – bursitis of shoulder joint is classified in following way:
  • calcific – chronic inflammation process of synovial sac, which causes accumulation of high amount of calcium;
  • subacromial bursitis – the inflammation of rotator cuff;
  • subcoracoid, subdeltoid and subclavian bursitides– pathology of synovial bursas of mentioned localization.

Treatment for any of mentioned disease forms must be provided only by an orthopedist.


Basic signs of the disease like shoulder bursitis are edema and pain in affected area. These symptoms occur due to calculus bursitis causing structural changes of joint and excessive producing of synovial fluid.

Synovial fluid may cause a sense of discomfort, since it extends the joint capsule. Difficult bone motion near the joint may also cause pain.

Area that located right above the shoulder joint usually becomes swollen and red. This is the specific sign of acute bursitis.

Patients mostly suffer from severe pain and inability to raise the affected hand.

Calculus, subacromial and subcoracoid shoulder bursitis characterized by severe pain at night.

Symptoms of chronic disease form are weak or not clear. Pain can be experienced during some significant stress of shoulder joint.

Undertreated bursitis may cause:Deltoid muscle

  • total atrophy of muscles of shoulder girdle;
  • limited joint motion activity;
  • limb weakness.
  • common symptoms of shoulder bursitis:
  • pain during rotating or moving of the affected limb;
  • strange flatness of shoulder can be seen;
  • swollen deltoid muscle. (pic)

Additional symptoms are typical small swelling in external segment of the shoulder, pain when touched. Nevertheless, such symptoms are typical for other diseases of locomotor system, thus, proper treatment of shoulder bursitis can be administered only by experienced orthopedist.

Patient also may experience weakness in hand sometimes and a limb can go numb.


It’s enough to analyze clinical situation, total influence external symptoms in other words, in order to detect pathology.

Additional diagnostics helps doctor to differ symptoms of shoulder bursitis from other joint diseases. Secondary methods of patients’ examinations at suspicion on bursitis are:

  • x-ray – detects deep pathology;
  • ultrasound is used for detection of fluid accumulation in synovial joint;
  • arthrocentesis – provides immunological and bacteriological analysis of synovial bursa composition;
  • MRI – for difficult cases.

There are no specific laboratory tests, which help to identify bursitis of shoulder joint. A doctor administers standard list of examinations in order to confirm the inflammation in joint. They also help to recognize the source of pathology.


Acute form of shoulder bursitis should be treated with rest and immovable bandage.

The disease must be treated with anti-inflammatory medication of non-steroid origin (ointments and tablets). If the disease added with infection, a doctor treats pathology of shoulder joint with antibiotics and macrolides. Hormonal drugs are injected into synovial bursa when treatment inflammation is unsuccessful.

Special effect have physiotherapy and gymnastic. Doctors administer:

  • hydrocortisone phonophoresis;
  • UHF;
  • ultraviolet irradiation.

Alcohol compresses are applied at night to increase physiotherapy effect.

Acupuncture is very effective for shoulder bursitis.Acupuncture therapy

Diagnostics of chronic bursitis often follows with doctor’s administration for surgery. The same situation with septic pathology.

Complications of shoulder bursitis:

  • phlegmon;
  • bone and joint inflammation;
  • osteomyelitis;
  • arthritis.


Bursitis can be treated with folk methods at home. There are some effective recipes:

  • An effective decoction of burdock roots – take 1 spoon of grinded roots and pour with 500g of water and boil for 5 minutes and infuse for 30 minutes. Filtrate and immerse gauze fabric into the mixture. Apply to the affected shoulder, cover with food wrap and scarf for 2 hours.
  • Another folk method which performed at home is cabbage leaf. Cut off all the veins and beat until juice appears. Wrap the injured shoulder with cabbage and fix. Change the bandage every 4 hours.
  • Mixture of butter and propolis (100/15g) is effective for bursitis. Have the mixture for 3 times daily before meal.

Bursitis treatment requires combined approach – medication and folk medicine, and also physiotherapy with massages. In this case chances of maximum success are higher.


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