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Runner Stretching


Bursae are small fluid filled sacs that are located throughout joints in the body. They act as a cushioning pad between bony surfaces, muscles and tendons, helping to reduce friction between them. Sometimes excessive use of a joint, in this case the shoulder, can lead to increased friction of the bursa causing them to become inflamed. Within the shoulder one of the common places this occurs is at a space at the front, named the acromion, clinically known as subacromial bursitis.


When the bursa is aggravated it can become inflamed, causing pain in the shoulder. This typically occurs as a result of repetitive (chronic) or traumatic forces to the shoulder. 

Chronic bursitis:
Is associated with repetitive movements of the shoulder, which over time irritate and aggravate the bursa. Examples of repetitive movements are often seen in sports we like to play such as tennis, volleyball, weight training, and occupations such as labourers, painters. 


Traumatic bursitis:
Occurs when a sudden amount of excessive load to the shoulder joint is experienced, this can result in the bursa becoming compressed and inflamed. Examples of this include lifting too heavy a weight, a fall onto the out-stretched arm or direct impact to the shoulder, usually experienced in contact sports. 

Risk factors: Gout, pseudogout, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and uremia. 


- Weakness of shoulder
- Pain when lying down on affected shoulder
- Pain around the outside or tip of the shoulder
- Swelling around the shoulder joint
- Pain when lifting arm in specific directions, such as out to the side and circling.
- Decreased range of motion from pain predominantly 
- Tenderness and pain at the front of the shoulder 
- General decrease in shoulder function


Shoulder bursitis can be detected via our Sydney physiotherapists who will investigate via assessing range of motion, strength, and special tests specific to shoulder injuries, rule out other pathologies and confirming a diagnosis. 

Further medical investigations such as an x-ray and MRI can be used to investigate if there may be something else contributing to your shoulder pain and/or more specific information. An x-ray can provide additional information on any calcifications and bony prominences which may be contributing to the inflammation of the bursa. An MRI can also diagnose inflammation of the bursa, as well as any surrounding structures which may be contributing to the issue, such as inflamed tendons and tissue. 


Shoulder bursitis can be very effectively managed by your trusty Sydney physios. They will assess your lifestyle, posture, shoulder structures and identify the main causes of condition. They will then implement the most effective treatment methods for you.

The main aims of treating shoulder bursitis should be to:

- Reduce aggravating factors such as improving posture and adjusting activities and movements.
- Decrease pain, and improve range of motion of the shoulder. 
- Decrease inflammation and promote healing of the bursa. 
- Improve muscular strength, control and stability surrounding the shoulder
- Prevent the injury recurring.


Shoulder bursitis can be well treated through rehabilitation exercises, which work to decrease swelling of the bursa, promote healing of any damaged surrounding structures as well as restore normal muscle function. A physiotherapist will assess the extent of your shoulder bursitis and design a treatment program designed to alleviate your symptoms and aid the return of your shoulders function.


If you are looking to alleviate your shoulder pain and improve your shoulder bursitis, then please look to visit one of our clinics or sign up for one of our online services for expert advice and treatment.



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