Health Guide
Drug Guide

Shoulder bursitis

What is it?

Bursitis (ber-SEYE-tis) is inflammation (in-flah-MAY-shun) (swelling, redness and pain) of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion or shock absorber between a tendon and a bone. A tendon is a cord of tough tissue that connects muscles to bones. Normally a bursa has a small amount of fluid in it. When injured, the bursa becomes inflamed and may become filled with too much fluid. Shoulder bursitis, or subacromial (sub-ak-ROH-mee-ull) bursitis, occurs when a bursa in your shoulder becomes inflamed.

Causes: You may have tendinitis (inflamed tendons) and bursitis in your shoulder at the same time. Your bursitis may be part of a problem called shoulder impingement (im-PINJ-ment). This occurs when the rotator cuff (shoulder muscles and tendons) is inflamed and squeezed between the shoulder bones. This can lead to irritation of the bursa. Following are some common causes of shoulder bursitis:

Signs and Symptoms:

Wellness Recommendations:

Medical Care:

Following are things you can do to help prevent bursitis from returning:


Herbs and Supplements

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



Complementary Therapies

Other ways of treating your symptoms: Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:

Care Agreement: You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


1. Anon. Impingement syndrome. Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. February 27, 2004. Available at: (cited 6/1/04). 2. Anon. Shoulder impingement (bursitis, tendinitis). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. April 2000. Available at: (cited 5/27/04). 3. Ceccherelli F, Gagliardi G, Matterazzo G et al: The role of manual acupuncture and morphine administration on the modulation of capsaicin-induced edema in rat paw: a blind controlled study. Acupunct Electrother Res 1996; 21(1):7-14. 4. Chen AL, Rokito AS, Zuckerman JD. The role of the acromioclavicular joint in impingement syndrome. Clin Sports Med. April 1, 2003; 22(2):343-357. 5. Daya M. Soft tissue conditions: subacromial syndromes and impingement (rotator cuff tendinitis, subdeltoid/subacromial bursitis). In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, Adams J, Barkin RM, Barsan WG et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice, 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2002:599-601. 6. Dugan S, Weber K. Selected topics in sports medicine. Dis Mon. September 2002; 48(9):572-616. 7. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Bursitis. December 18, 2003. Available at: (cited 3/2/04). 8. National Institutes of Health. Questions and answers about shoulder problems. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services. NIH Publication No. 01-4865. Available at: (5/27/04). 9. Pinter E & Szolcsanyi J: Systemic anti-inflammatory effect induced by antidromic stimulation of the dorsal roots in the rat. Neurosci Lett 1996; 212(1):33-36. 10. Schoen AM: Acupuncture for musculoskeletal disorders. Probl Vet Med 1992; 4(1):88-97. 11. Zhang WY & Li Wan Po A: The effectiveness of topically applied capsaicin: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1994; 46(6):517-522.


Last Updated: 9/15/2016

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