The Bursitis Boogie: How to Shake off Shoulder Pain

Subacromial bursitis, also known as “the shoulder injury that makes you want to cry like a baby when you try to put on a shirt/bra,” is a common condition that affects the shoulder joint. But don’t worry, I’m here to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about this pesky injury.

So, what exactly is subacromial bursitis?

It’s an inflammation of the bursa, which is a small fluid-filled sac that sits between the acromion (a bony prominence on the shoulder blade) and the rotator cuff tendons. The bursa’s job is to provide a cushion and help the tendons glide smoothly as you move your arm. But when the bursa becomes inflamed, it can cause pain, weakness, and a loss of range of motion in the shoulder.

Now, you might be wondering, “How did I end up with this injury? Did I do something wrong?” The truth is, there are a few different ways that subacromial bursitis can occur. One common cause is repetitive overhead motions, such as throwing a ball or lifting weights. Other risk factors include age (as we get older, our tendons and bursa can become less flexible), obesity, and certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to these risk factors a previous history of trauma to the shoulder can increase the risk of bursitis.

But just because you have subacromial bursitis, it doesn’t mean your life is over. In fact, the good news is that the majority of people with this injury can recover with proper treatment and rehabilitation. The first step is to figure out what stage or rehabilitation we can start at. If the pain is unbearable and you want to rip off your arm it would be best to rest the shoulder and reduce the inflammation with ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. This should only be done for a short period of time as well need to perform exercises through the shoulder as soon as possible.

One of the most important things you can do to speed up your recovery is to stay active.

Now, I know that might sound counterintuitive, but trust me, the key to healing is to keep the blood flowing to the injured area. This will also help to prevent your shoulder from stiffening up and make it easier for you to get back to your normal activities; the last thing we want is for the bursitis to become a frozen shoulder. Initial rehab will involve isometric holds to begin muscle loading around the shoulder that isn’t too difficult or painful to perform. The intermediate phase will focus on a combination of mobility and strengthening activities. Whilst the final phase will take on a more functional approach so individuals can get back to doing their daily activities.

So, what’s the prognosis for subacromial bursitis? The good news is that most people with this condition can recover with proper treatment and rehabilitation, but it can take some time. It’s always difficult to provide an accurate timeline for the injury although through clinical experience this has varied between 6 weeks up to 3-6 months for recovery.

In conclusion, subacromial bursitis is a common injury that can be caused by repetitive overhead motions, age, obesity, and certain medical conditions. But with proper treatment, rehabilitation and activity, you will be back to your normal routine in no time. And remember, if you feel like crying, just think about how you’ll be able to put on a shirt without any pain. Stick to your rehab and get back to living life.

Written by Nick Dimakis (Chiropractor)