Inflammation or irritation of the bursa which is a sac filled with lubricating fluid, located between tissues such as bone, muscle, tendons, and skin, that decreases rubbing, friction, and irritation.

Most common symptom is pain that may build up gradually or be sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present.

Range of motion in the shoulder may be severe limited (“adhesive capsulitis” or frozen shoulder) as a result from the immobility and pain associated with shoulder bursitis.


Physician may do/request:

  • History & Physical Exam
  • Diagnostics Tests
    • X-ray of the affected area to look for bony spurs (abnormal areas) or arthritis
    • Aspiration, in which fluid is taken from the swollen bursa and evaluated under a microscope, to rule out gout or infection
    • Blood tests to screen for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
    • Magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI)



  • Initial treatment typically consists of over-the-counter non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aleve or Advil, to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Ice may be applied to the affected area (although not directly on the skin), as recommended by your doctor.
  • A corticosteroid may be injected into and around the inflamed bursae (the fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints affected by bursitis). Withdrawal of fluid from the inflamed and swollen bursae via needed may be need in severe cases in order to relieve the pressure. Bursae can be surgically removed in persistent conditions
  • Undergoing a physical therapy program may be helpful. It may include stretching and focused strengthening exercises. Heat and ultrasound may be applied to relax the joint.
  • Bursitis may be recurrent, especially if you engage regularly in strenuous exercise or physical labor. Strain or injury reduction/avoidance is key.

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