Shoulder Bursitis

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Shoulder bursitis can cause swelling in your shoulder and sometimes even tenderness or pain. The condition can disturb your daily activities by affecting your shoulder movement and arm mobility.

If you need a shoulder specialist, call Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow now. Our team of specialists can provide effective shoulder treatments in Marietta and Atlanta, GA. Contact us today!

AdobeStock_451035542 1

What Is Shoulder Bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis is when the bursa in the shoulder becomes inflamed. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between the bones and connective tissue. They allow movement of your tendons, muscles, and bones.

The bursa in the shoulder are called the subacromial bursa. They cushion the rotator cuff tendons close to the acromion. This allows arm movement without friction occurring between your tendons and bones.

Injuries or repetitive movements, such as reaching or overhead lifting, can cause fluid to collect in the bursae, causing bursitis. Symptoms such as pain or swelling may occur suddenly or gradually. You may hear other medical terms used to describe this condition, such as subacromial bursitis or rotator cuff tendonitis.

The Types of Shoulder Bursitis

There are three different types of shoulder bursitis. The different types of shoulder bursitis include the following:

  • Acute bursitis: This type of bursitis occurs through a sudden trauma. It causes pain to the touch and through movement.
  • Chronic bursitis: Repetitive acute injuries can build over time and cause chronic shoulder bursitis. The symptoms may not always be present; however, flare-ups can last several weeks or months. Inflammation that continues for an extended period of time can lead to muscle weakness in the shoulder and arm. You may also develop referred pain in areas such as your neck or elbow as other muscles compensate for the weakness in your shoulder.
  • Infectious or septic bursitis: This type of bursitis is less common. It is caused by a bacterial infection. Your shoulder can look reddish or purple and feel warm to the touch. You may also develop a fever and severe shoulder pain.

What Causes Shoulder Bursitis?

Bursitis is an overuse injury caused by repetitive motions from the shoulder muscles.

It is particularly common in athletes who pitch or throw and perform overhead movements, like swimming. These movements can cause friction between bones and tissues which can inflame and irritate the bursae. The resulting inflammation and fluid buildup in the bursa sacs is bursitis.

What Risk Factors Are Involved?

Shoulder bursitis can occur in anyone. If you perform a lot of shoulder movements, then you are at a greater risk. Professionals such as painters or carpenters and those who play sports such as baseball or football may develop shoulder bursitis.

Having the following conditions may increase your chances of developing shoulder bursitis:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Kidney disease or uremia (waste buildup in the blood)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Thyroid disease

Symptoms of Shoulder Bursitis

The symptoms of shoulder bursitis can come on suddenly or gradually. The following list contains some possible symptoms of shoulder bursitis:

  • Shoulder pain that can be dull or sharp
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder
  • Pain at night when lying on the affected side
  • Painful range of motion
  • Shoulder swelling
  • Sharp or pinching pain with overhead shoulder movement


Diagnostic tests, such as a physical exam or MRI scans, can help diagnose the condition.

How to Treat Shoulder Bursitis

There are several ways to treat bursitis symptoms. At-home treatments for shoulder bursitis include the following:

  • Resting the affected shoulder
  • Using ice packs to reduce inflammation in the affected area
  • Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling


Our doctors can also prescribe the following non-surgical treatments for shoulder bursitis:

  • Steroid injections to ease pain and inflammation
  • Orally taken corticosteroids, such as Kenalog or Celestone, to reduce severe pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy exercises to strengthen weak muscles and improve range of motion
  • Antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection


Non-surgical treatments usually relieve bursitis symptoms. However, when they fail to work, some surgical treatments may be used to treat bursitis. The following surgical procedures are performed with the help of a tiny camera called an arthroscope:

  • Remove bone spurs and damaged tissue that press on and irritate the bursae.
  • Remove an inflamed bursae to allow more room for the tendons and bones to move freely.

How to Prevent Shoulder Bursitis

The following steps may help you prevent shoulder bursitis:

  • A physical therapist can provide an exercise program to strengthen and stretch your shoulder.
  • Include a shoulder warmup before doing activities.
  • Take breaks when your activity includes repetitive movements.
  • Wear a shoulder brace

Get Professional Shoulder Treatment

Consulting an orthopedic doctor can help you to find solutions for chronic pain. They will also help you to resume some of your everyday activities.

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we offer professional treatment for many shoulder problems, including bursitis and shoulder impingement syndrome. Our specialists will assess your condition to identify suitable treatment methods and then create a treatment plan to help restore your range of motion. 

Contact us at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow now if you need shoulder treatment in Marietta and Atlanta, GA. We look forward to providing you with the quality care you’re looking for!

Medically reviewed by

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon