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‘I have had an ultrasound and been diagnosed with bursitis of the shoulder.  I have rested it for six weeks and taken anti-inflammatory medication but I still get pain with movement.’

This is a common statement we hear with shoulders in the clinic and unfortunately it’s due to misinformation.

The bursae are fluid filled sacks that are located throughout the body wherever friction occurs to allow smooth movement.  If for some reason (weakness, posture, overload) there is an imbalance within the joint there will be excessive pressure on the bursa and it can become inflamed. It has a high nervous supply and so it is very painful. However, despite the bursa being the source of your pain, it is never the cause, and there has to be another reason for it to become inflamed.

The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body.  The scapula is the base for the shoulder and therefore needs a solid starting position as well as fluidity within movement to function correctly.  The glenohumeral joint requires synchronisation between the scapula movements and the pull of the large torque producing muscles to achieve full range.  The scapula is the attachment for the rotator cuff which works to centre the humerus in its socket to prevent excessive movement from the large musculature.  The shoulder is a complex and specialised joint which can break down at any point along this chain. This usually occurs from training overload, repetitive movements, poor posture or acute trauma.

So, bursitis is never the primary diagnosis for your shoulder pain it is only ever a secondary result of something further within the kinetic chain.  Rather than just treat your symptoms with medication and rest; instead, go and see a Physiotherapist for an assessment and diagnosis of your true primary driver.  From there we can put you on the rehabilitation pathway and return you to what you really want to be doing.