Bursitis – Impingement Syndrome
It is estimated that about 50% of all cases of shoulder pain are likely due to an impingement syndrome involving an inflamed bursa and the rotator cuff tendons right beneath it.
What Is Bursitis?
The bursa is a fluid-filled cushion that exists at joints throughout the body. This tiny, slippery sac fits snugly between bone and the soft tissue connected to it, helping to reduce friction between tissue surfaces at a joint.
When the bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, it is called bursitis. Repetitive movement, overuse, injury, and infection are all common causes of bursitis.
Athletes, musicians, weight lifters, and construction workers have an increased risk of shoulder bursitis due to repeated overhead arm movements. Bursitis is also common in patients with certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid disorders.
How Impingement Occurs
The most commonly injured bursa in the shoulder is the one that sits between the rotator cuff and the highest part of the shoulder blade (acromion). As this bursa swells, it leaves less space for rotator cuff muscles and tendons to move – especially in the subacromial space, the narrow passageway between the upper arm bone and the acromion bone.
This can pinch, irritate, and inflame rotator cuff tendons, a condition called subacromial impingement syndrome, which can lead to shoulder pain and restricted movement. In addition, some people may naturally have less room in the subacromial space due to the shape of their bones, which leaves them susceptible to shoulder bursitis and impingement.
Symptoms of Bursitis / Shoulder Impingement
Signs and symptoms of bursitis and shoulder impingement include:
- Pain at the outermost tip of the shoulder
- Shoulder pain that is painful to the touch
- Shoulder pain with overhead arm movements
- Shoulder pain that worsens when pushing or pulling
- Shoulder swelling, warmth, and redness
- Reduced range of motion in the affected shoulder
If your shoulder pain is accompanied by fever or chills, it may indicate that the bursa has become infected and requires immediate medical attention.
Treating Bursitis / Shoulder Impingement
In many cases, bursitis gets better on its own, with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Anti-inflammatories may also help, including corticosteroid injections. For a period of time, avoiding overhead tasks and other activities that cause pain is typically recommended.
Physical therapy can effectively relieve symptoms associated with shoulder bursitis and impingement such as shoulder pain and inflammation. Strength and flexibility exercises can restore the range of motion in your arm and shoulder.
If your shoulder bursitis and impingement fail to respond to conservative treatments, or if it persistently recurs, your orthopedic specialist may recommend surgery to reduce pressure on the bursa and repair any damage at the site. This is typically done with a minimally invasive arthroscopic subacromial decompression procedure.
Shoulder Bursitis / Impingement Treatment in Knoxville and Athens, TN
Make sure you’re getting the best care for bursitis and shoulder impingement. Dr. David Hovis at The Shoulder Institute at ORTHOKnox can relieve your shoulder pain and design a treatment plan that’s right for you. Call (865) 251-3030 to schedule your visit.