Also known as Subacromial or Subdeltoid Bursitis, shoulder bursitis is the inflammation of the subacromial bursa, a small fluid-filled sac in the shoulder. This article delves into the causes, symptoms, physiotherapy interventions, and common questions associated with shoulder bursitis.
Introduction: Decoding Shoulder Bursitis
Shoulder bursitis, interchangeable with subacromial or subdeltoid bursitis, entails inflammation of the subacromial bursa—a crucial sac that reduces friction between various shoulder structures. Essential for understanding this condition is recognising the role of bursae in minimising friction within the shoulder, particularly among rotator cuff muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments.
Causes of Shoulder Bursitis
Primarily triggered by a sudden surge in shoulder-related activities, such as overhead sports or weight lifting, shoulder bursitis is often linked to increased demands or load on the rotator cuff muscles. It is crucial to note that the activities themselves aren't inherently harmful; rather, it's the abrupt escalation in their intensity and time compared to recent months that can lead to subacromial bursitis.
Physiotherapy for Shoulder Bursitis
Effective physiotherapy begins with understanding the patient's narrative, concerns, and goals. By conducting a thorough assessment, focusing on the upper back, shoulder blade, and rotator cuff muscles, physiotherapists can identify the root cause of shoulder pain. The treatment plan typically involves hands-on manual therapy, self-release techniques, and tailored exercises to restore range of motion and strength.
The rehabilitation journey involves progressively reintroducing the patient to pain-free exercises, emphasising graded exposure and gradual loading. The final stage focuses on a personalised preventative program to minimise the risk of future injuries. Exercise rehabilitation for the rotator cuff, upper back, and shoulder blade muscles forms a crucial aspect of long-term management.
Symptoms and Recognition
Shoulder bursitis manifests in various ways, often presenting as a painful arc during arm movement. Symptoms may include dull or sharp pain in the front or side of the shoulder, pain when lifting overhead, and discomfort during activities like brushing teeth or sleeping on the affected side.
Concerns and Misconceptions
Contrary to common belief, the presence of shoulder bursitis on scans (ultrasound, CT, or MRI) does not necessarily correlate with pain. Emphasising the importance of treating the individual and their symptoms, rather than the scan results, is paramount.