What is Bursitis of the shoulder?

Bursitis of the shoulder is a common condition in which the bursa sitting in the shoulder becomes inflamed and later can cause pain. A bursa is a fluid-filled sack that acts as a protective cushion between muscles, bones, and joints throughout the body. However, when this Bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, it can not only cause pain but also decrease the movement within that joint.

Shoulder bursitis

Shoulder – Bursitis

What area of the body does bursitis of the shoulder affect? the type of feeling/pain/symptoms?

There are numerous bursae within the shoulder joint with the two most commonly becoming inflamed are the subacromial and subdeltoid bursa. Typically, pain may present within the lateral or anterior part of the shoulder. Pain tends to increase with repetitive lifting overhead and reaching outwards in particular with abduction, while at night the shoulder will be more irritable making it difficult to sleep on that side.


What behaviours causes bursitis of the shoulder?

There are many causes that can bring on bursitis of the shoulder. Typically, these factors would include trauma to the shoulder, inflammation of the shoulder such as arthritis and overloading and repetitive movements, commonly overhead. An example of this are admin workers or those working in front of the computer for a while. Over time, the position of the shoulder will tend to be rolled forward with heavy amounts of pressure onto the bursa. With this repetitive overload, this can often lead to bursitis of the shoulder.

Office Worker bursitis

Office Worker

How does physiotherapy help with bursitis of the shoulder?

Physiotherapy helps with bursitis of the shoulder with the aim to having a full range of motion and becoming pain-free. As the bursa is currently inflamed, our main aim is to relax the surrounding muscles that are protecting the shoulder through manual treatment and starting off with gentle isometric exercises to build that strength and remove the pain. As the pain decreases and the shoulder range increases, the aim is to assist with the shoulder rhythm and pressure placed on the bursa. This would include strengthening the muscles around our shoulder blade and rotator cuff to allow more space within the shoulder joint and therefore decrease the pressure onto the bursa. The final step would be to work the shoulder joint as a whole and thus begin targeted strengthening exercises of our shoulder girdle and upper limb. This will help to return pain-free but also to prevent recurrence of the shoulder bursitis.

Massage bursitis

Massage – bursitis – Physiotherapy


How long does bursitis of the shoulder take to recover?  why is it important to treat it early?

Fortunately, the prognosis of bursitis of the shoulder is high with surgery rarely considered. Generally, age can affect the speed of recovery, however, if picked up early and managed with the correct exercises and treatment plan, people improve through conservative therapy. However, we do understand that even though the diagnosis is the same, treatment is always different and should be specific and tailored to best match the person, their outcomes, and expectations.

Andreas Zacharakis

Andreas Zacharakis – Physiotherapist at Primal Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Taylors Hill

About Andreas Zacharakis & Primal Physiotherapy

Having suffered injuries in his junior sporting years, Andreas decided to pursue a career in physiotherapy to help those in need get back to full health. Andreas graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science & Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) from Monash University. He has a keen interest in sports rehabilitation and knee injuries.

Andreas is a Physiotherapist at Primal Physiotherapy which is a leading Physiotherapy clinic with state of the art rehab facility to help their clients return back to life, work, and exercise pain-free.

Primal Physiotherapy Braybrook 
10/227 Ballarat Rd
Braybrook VIC 3019
(03) 9995 8044

Primal Physiotherapy Taylors Hill
127 Gourlay Rd
Taylors Hill VIC 3037
(03) 8315 7182

Primal Physiotherapy Camberwell
782 Burke Rd
Camberwell VIC 3124
(03) 9973 3090