Understanding and Managing Bursitis in the Shoulder

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Experiencing shoulder pain can significantly impact daily functioning and diminish one’s overall quality of life. Among the myriad causes of shoulder discomfort, bursitis stands out—a condition triggered by inflammation in the bursa, tiny fluid-filled sacs acting as cushions between bones and soft tissues. This article delves into the specifics of shoulder bursitis, examining its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatment options.


The shoulder, characterized by its intricate structure and expansive range of motion, is prone to an array of injuries and conditions. Shoulder bursitis, specifically, emerges when the bursa undergoes irritation or inflammation. Contributing factors encompass repetitive movements, excessive use of the shoulder joint, traumatic incidents, and underlying conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.


Individuals grappling with shoulder bursitis may encounter a variety of signs, including:

  1. Discomfort: Lingering, dull pain in the shoulder that intensifies during movement.
  2. Swelling: Observable inflammation, leading to visible swelling in the affected area.
  3. Rigidity: Limited range of motion in the shoulder, stemming from pain and swelling.
  4. Sensitivity: Heightened tenderness to touch, particularly in the impacted shoulder.
  5. Weakness: Challenges in lifting or carrying objects due to a combination of pain and stiffness.


For a proper diagnosis, it’s critical to seek advice from a healthcare provider if you think you may have shoulder bursitis. In order to rule out other possible causes of shoulder discomfort, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, go over your medical history, and maybe recommend diagnostic imaging, like X-rays or MRIs.


Addressing shoulder bursitis typically involves a comprehensive approach utilizing various conservative measures to alleviate symptoms. These may encompass:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification: Allowing the shoulder sufficient time to rest and avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms.
  2. Ice and Heat Therapy: Applying ice packs or warm compresses to diminish inflammation and relieve pain.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be employed to effectively manage pain and inflammation.
  4. Physical Therapy: Engaging in targeted exercises and stretches to enhance shoulder strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  5. Corticosteroid Injections: In certain cases, healthcare professionals may recommend the injection of corticosteroids into the affected area to mitigate inflammation.


Though preventing every instance of shoulder bursitis may not be feasible, individuals can adopt measures to minimize their risk:

  1. Effective Warm-Up: Always engage in a proper warm-up before participating in physical activities to adequately prepare the muscles and joints.
  2. Strengthening Exercises: Regularly incorporate exercises designed to strengthen the shoulder muscles into your routine.
  3. Posture Awareness: Maintain good posture to alleviate stress on the shoulders.
  4. Avoid Overuse: Take breaks during repetitive activities to prevent overuse of the shoulder joint.


To effectively manage shoulder bursitis, a fast diagnosis and a personalised treatment plan are required. Consultation with healthcare professionals is essential for an accurate assessment, which leads to a customised strategy that may involve rest, medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Individuals can reduce their risk of shoulder bursitis by proactively guarding the shoulder joint and implementing preventive techniques, creating a healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Shoulder Bursitis FAQ

Treatment for shoulder bursitis varies depending on the specific type and severity of the condition. It may involve modifying activities, using a splint for immobilization, applying ice, receiving injections, draining the bursa through aspiration using a syringe, or taking antibiotics or anti-inflammatory pain medication. Surgical intervention is seldom necessary for the treatment of bursitis.
The primary indicators of bursitis typically include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the vicinity of a joint.
Persistent bursitis entails recurring episodes and prolonged inflammation, potentially causing additional harm to the bursae and significantly impacting the range of motion in your shoulder. As shoulder mobility diminishes over time, even minor movements can become both painful and challenging.
If persistent shoulder pain, restricted range of motion affecting daily activities, or weakness in the shoulder or arm is a concern, it is advisable to seek consultation with an orthopedic specialist.


If you would like an appointment / review with our shoulder bursitis specialist in Singapore, the best way is to call +65 3135 1327 or click here to book an appointment at the clinic. If you would like to speak to one of our clinicians first, then please contact contact@orthopaedicclinic.com.sg or SMS/WhatsApp to +65 3135 1327.

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