Shoulder Bursitis Symptoms
Subacromial bursitis symptoms are similar to symptoms that occur in other bursae elsewhere in the body. These symptoms include pain, weakness, difficulties sleeping, swelling and tenderness, limited range of motion, and possibly a fever if the fluid inside the bursa is infected (septic bursitis).
Limited Range of Motion and Weakness
When you have subacromial bursitis, the pain often limits your range of motion in the shoulder as you stop performing motions that make the pain worse. If bursitis is left untreated the inflammation can increase, causing more pain, limiting movement even more. Eventually weakness in the shoulder muscles and tendons can set in.
To diagnose your bursitis, the doctor may ask you to extend your arm out and he/she will apply resistance as you try to move it back towards your body. If the pain increases you may be suffering from bursitis, although other rotator cuff injuries and tendonitis can produce similar pain patterns.
Direct pressure on the bursa will exacerbate the pain and should be avoided if possible. Subdeltoid or subacromial bursitis causes pain when you move your shoulder, particularly during activities requiring abduction and extension.
The pain of bursitis starts gradually, originating deep inside your shoulder, and develops over a few days or even months. You will usually feel the pain on the outside of the shoulder and it may spread down the outer arm towards the elbow. If you raise your arm above your head, as you would when washing your hair or reaching high to get something off a shelf, the pain will worsen.
If the bursa is swollen and pinched by the acromion (Impingement Syndrome) the pain may occur as you lift your arm out to the side.
If your bursitis is caused by an infection in the bursa (septic bursa) you will usually experience a fever. If you are experiencing tenderness, warmth, and redness around the bursa, it is recommeded that you see a doctor for medication to get rid of the infection.
Patients suffering from shoulder bursitis may also have interrupted sleep patterns. Simply rolling over on the affected shoulder during the night can cause pressure on the inflamed bursa increasing the pain at the pressure point. The pain can range from mild to very sharp depending on the amount of inflammation in your shoulder.
Tenderness and Swelling
A physical examination of your shoulder will show tenderness and usually warmth and swelling of the bursa and possibly the tendons as well. The tenderness will appear over the outside (lateral) shoulder and the subacromial space. There may be redness on your skin over the area.
It is important to treat bursitis to reduce these symptoms, minimize damage and maintain rotator cuff motion and strength. Without proper care, you may experience other painful conditions such as calcific tendonitis, frozen shoulder or a rotator cuff tear. By treating your shoulder bursitis in the early stages, you are more likely to prevent long-term damage and chronic conditions from setting in.
How to Treat Shoulder Bursitis
Relieving the symptoms of bursitis initially focuses on keeping the pressure off the bursa (i.e. carrying a backpack or purse on the opposite shoulder). Surgery may be required if your bursa irritation is a result of a bone formation problem, such as a hooked acromion causing impingement of the bursa. If your bursitis is caused by an infection (septic bursitis), the doctor will probably drain the bursa sac with a needle and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
For non-infectious bursitis, the preliminary treatment starts with non-operative options such as cold therapy. Surgery to remove the inflamed bursa is normally not required for bursitis, however if you fail to see improvement with the conservative treatments, your physician may recommend surgery to remove the bursa completely. Although this removes the problem of an inflamed bursa, you are left with less cushioning in your rotator cuff which can lead to a host of other shoulder pain and problems.
The most important factor in healing bursitis is resting your shoulder. This can be difficult when you have to carry on with daily activities, but resting your shoulder whenever you can is recommended. During your recovery you will probably have to modify or avoid the activities that stress your bursa until your pain and inflammation settle.
Treatments should involve decreasing swelling, relieving stress on the shoulder, correcting any biomechanical dysfunction (hooked acromion, bone spur, etc.), treating scar tissue, and then restoring strength and movement in your shoulder.
Cold Compression Therapy
To decrease inflammation and relieve the pain of rotator cuff bursitis doctor's recommend cold therapy.
Applying cold to your inflamed bursa will help decrease the swelling and redness around it. Cold therapy will also help to numb the pain in your shoulder and rotator cuff and help to control the inflammation.
Cooling your inflamed bursa as needed throughout the day is recommended. Do not apply ice directly on your skin, rather wrap it in a cloth or towel or, better yet, use a cold wrap that fits easily and comfortably to your body.
The Shoulder Freezie Wrap® has a supercharged cooling gel pack that chills in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs, giving you deep cold therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn. It can be used to apply cold in a safe, convenient and effective way - and the gel pack is reusable.
The wrap is soft and adjustable so it fits your shoulder properly, without irritating the bursa, and allows you to adjust the compression. This is important when treating an inflamed bursa because too much pressure can cause you further pain. You control how much pressure the bursa receives so you can benefit from the compression to hold the cold where you need it, without increasing your pain.
Applying cold to your tender bursa and rotator cuff is the first step in treating your bursitis. Then begin Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ to continue the healing process.
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Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
Once the inflammation of your bursitis has been reduced with cold therapy it is time to improve blood flow and improve the elasticity of your surrounding soft tissue. Your body needs a fresh supply of blood to improve the health of your tissue and get your bursae and rotator cuff tendons healthy again.
Unfortunately, when you are suffering from bursitis it is painful to lift your arm and use you shoulder. When you limit movement in your shoulder the blood flow is reduced, starving your tissue of the necessary oxygen and nutrients.
The trick is to find a way to increase blood flow without causing pain and/or further inflaming the bursae. This is where Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) becomes a powerful tool. BFST® compliments your body's natural healing process by promoting the flow of blood to your shoulder while you give it the rest it needs.
The Shoulder Inferno Wrap® uses a patented process to generate the same energy that is part of the sun's spectrum of light, the same energy that is necessary to all living things for optimum health. The energy emitted from the Energy Web® stimulates blood flow to your rotator cuff, more than your body would ever be able to generate on it's own, giving your body the boost it needs to continue the reconditioning process. The healing energy reaches deep into your shoulder bursae and rotator cuff tendons to speed tissue repair, whisk away the toxins and dead cells, and rejuvenate your rotator cuff tissues for improved elasticity.
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With these easy-to-use, home therapies you will notice significantly reduced pain and an incredible improvement in your rotator cuff range of motion.
We recommend that you consult your doctor and/or physiotherapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they're right for you and your condition.
Pain and Anti-inflammatory
(NSAIDs - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be used if required to help manage your pain. However, these aren't recommended for long term use, as they can cause gastrointestinal difficulties and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The use of cold therapy and BFST® in conjunction with NSAIDs can greatly improve the effect of this medication and can help to heal quicker.
Your doctor may aspirate the inflamed bursa. This involves removing the extra fluid that has built up with a needle. Sometimes, the fluid will be tested at a laboratory to rule out infection.
If your bursitis does not get better with conservative treatments, a subacromial decompression may be done. It is an arthroscopic procedure, so tine incisions are made and a pencil-sized camera is inserted into the shoulder. A small shaver is inserted into another incision, and is used to remove the swollen bursa all together. The surgeon will then look for any damage to the rotator cuff. If the subacromial space is small, the surgeon may use a burr to shave the acromion down in order to create more space for the rotator cuff tendons. This is also done to remove any bone spurs in the shoulder.
Recovery time for the surgery will depend a number of different factors including your healing ability, diet, rest and how many procedures were done in your surgery. Your doctor will advise you on your recovery, and will let you know if/when physical therapy can be started.
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.