Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder pain is quite common with up to two thirds of the population suffering from it at some point during their life. It usually presents as pain deep within the shoulder joint, but may also extend down the upper arm or commonly around the front of the shoulder towards the chest. It is also commonly associated with movement (particularly overhead) and possible sensations of catching or clicking.

There are many different causes of shoulder pain due to the complexity of pain as well as the complex anatomy of the shoulder, which is easily affected by other parts of the body (spinal posture and movement control, shoulder blade movement control and the neck!). There is a misconception that the sub-acromial bursa is the source of all shoulder pain as it becomes ‘impinged’ between the two shoulder bones. However, we know that this is not always true as multiple studies have shown patients with no pain may still have a ‘swollen’ or ‘impinged’ bursa on imaging reports.

The source of pain is multifactorial but can sometimes occur due to irritation of the shoulder following repetitive impingement between the upper arm bone (humerus) and the tip of the shoulder (acromion). Another common source of pain may be the tendons of the shoulder (commonly supraspinatus). Imaging reports will commonly reports tears of the tendon but it is now thought that most tears aren’t an issue and are part of a normal degenerative process. However, in some instances the tendon can weaken and become painful due to repetitive micro trauma, usually with overuse activities, a problem we term tendinopathy.

Treating shoulder pain is different for each individual. At Pro Physio SA our therapists aim at correcting the underlying cause of the shoulder pain which could be due to a number of factors (local stiffness, shoulder blade control, rotator cuff endurance and strength amongst many others). If you’re suffering from shoulder pain be sure to book in with one of our physiotherapists for a full assessment of your condition and advice to get you back on track.

Alex Townsley, Physiotherapist

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