How do you treat bursitis of the shoulder?

Bursitis of the shoulder is best treated by physical therapy focusing on posterior capsular stretching, rotator cuff strengthening, and periscapular stabilization. Oftentimes, a steroid injection into the subacromial space of the shoulder will also provide tremendous relief. As an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs, I like to inject the subacromial space and then send my patients to physical therapy. Almost all of my patients get better with this combination of treatment. Usually, only one steroid injection to the shoulder bursa is ever needed.

What does bursitis in the shoulder feel like?

Shoulder bursitis will often feel like a dull ache localized to the shoulder. This pain is often worse with overhead activity, such as when you have to lift your arm. People with shoulder bursitis will also notice the pain when they are sleeping on the side that hurts. They will wake up in the middle of the night with an intense ache that feels like someone has been punching them while they sleep! Shoulder bursitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain, and is usually the main culprit when someone’s shoulder hurts. That being said, you can also have a rotator cuff tear which can present similarly, but with more weakness of the shoulder along with the pain.

How long does it take shoulder bursitis to heal?

It normally takes about 6 to 8 weeks for shoulder bursitis to heal. This is assuming that you’ve been doing the physical therapy exercises that you need to be doing. Getting a steroid injection to the shoulder bursa will speed this whole process along by decreasing the inflammation in your shoulder, which allows you to make more gains with physical therapy. When you have shoulder bursitis, it means that your biomechanics are off in your shoulder, which is causing rubbing of your rotator cuff leading to shoulder bursitis. This is also called shoulder impingement. The way to fix shoulder bursitis to get your biomechanics of your shoulder back in alignment through physical therapy which employs very specific exercises.

What happens if shoulder bursitis is left untreated?

If shoulder bursitis is left untreated, it will further disrupt the biomechanics of your shoulder and shoulder blade, which will cause more pain in different areas. The shoulder blade moves together with the shoulder itself. When the movements of the shoulder are disrupted, like in shoulder bursitis, the movements of the shoulder blade can get disrupted too, causing pain around the scapula and something called scapular dyskinesis. There will also be tightening on the front of your shoulder which can cause pain too. Overall, shoulder bursitis is a very treatable condition that usually doesn’t need surgery, but can be painful if ignored.

I hope I was able to answer some of your questions about how to treat bursitis of the shoulder. If you would like me to treat your shoulder bursitis, contact us below to make an appointment if you are in the Colorado Springs area. I also am available for virtual consults.

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