Treating Shoulder Pain Due to Bursitis

Health & Medical Blog

In your shoulder, there are structures called bursae. These bursae are basically fluid-filled sacs that are meant to cushion the joint and reduce rubbing due to friction. Sometimes, though, a bursa will become inflamed and irritated, leading to shoulder pain. Here are the key ways that shoulder pain due to bursitis can be treated and managed.

Splint and Immobilization

The first treatment doctors usually recommend for bursitis is wearing a splint or sling to immobilize the joint. The splint or sling will essentially keep the shoulder from rubbing on the bursa, which will give it time to heal. After a week or two of immobilization, many patients find that their pain subsides. If your shoulder is still painful after this, let your doctor know. They will likely recommend one or more of the treatments below.

Steroid Injections

If rest alone does not cause the inflammation in your bursa to go down, then your doctor will likely recommend steroid injections. These injections are given directly into the inflamed area. Usually, the steroid used is cortisone, but some doctors use other long-acting steroids. The injection itself may be a bit uncomfortable, but it should give you relief within a day or two. Then, once the major inflammation is gone from the bursa, it can start to heal the rest of the way. Most people only need one steroid injection to heal their bursitis. However, there are times when it takes a couple of injections, spaced weeks or months apart, to fully kick this ailment to the curb.

Aspiration and Antibiotics

If you ignore and don't treat bursitis for a long while, then you may end up with an infection in the bursa. When this happens, the pain gets worse, and you'll likely notice swelling and redness in the shoulder. A doctor can use a long needle to aspirate fluids from the bursa. They will then prescribe antibiotics to help kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. You'll need to take the antibiotics for as long as is recommended on the bottle to ensure the infection is fully cured. Your doctor may want to do an MRI or other imaging to make sure the infection is gone before ending treatment.

Bursitis can be quite painful when it affects your shoulder. If you think you may have this condition, reach out to a doctor. The earlier you start treating it, the more likely it is to clear up with simple rest and immobilization. 


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