As you get older, the chances that you will get bursitis in the shoulder increases. Bursitis can be chronically painful and restrict the normal use of your shoulder. In severe cases, you may even need orthopedic surgery. However, the more you know about shoulder bursitis, and how to alleviate it, the less likely you will be to have long-term problems.

What is Shoulder Bursitis?

Bursitis refers to the inflammation of tiny sacs that are under and between the tendons that lay across your joints. In your shoulder's case, bursitis refers to the small sacs around the mass of tendons in your rotator cuff area. The purpose of these sacs is to cushion your tendons from friction and bumps as you move around.

What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Bursitis?

Generally, shoulder bursitis feels like an extreme stiffness and pain around the shoulder blade area or where the humerus, or arm bone, meets the shoulder socket. You will also have restricted shoulder movement and your shoulder may be tender to the touch. Shoulder bursitis may make sleeping difficult because it may be hard to find a comfortable position that doesn't affect your shoulder.

What Causes Shoulder Bursitis?

Overuse is one of the most common causes of shoulder bursitis. If you have a job or participate in a sport with constant back and forth or up and down arm movement, then you are at higher risk of this condition. Direct injury, such as from a fall, is also a common cause. However, sometimes shoulder bursitis develops for no easily-apparent reason.

Can Shoulder Bursitis be Prevented?

Fortunately, you can reduce shoulder pain and bursitis by easing off when it comes to using your shoulder muscles. Train carefully to build up your upper back and shoulder muscles. When you feel pain in this area, reduce activity and take an anti-inflammatory medication if possible. See your doctor about cortisone injections and stronger medications if you find the pain is unbearable.

When is Surgery Necessary?

If all other treatment, exercise, and rest are ineffective, then surgery may help with your pain. Most bursitis surgery involves draining the bursa sacs so that they put less pressure on your nerves. Shoulder bursitis surgery is minimally invasive and sometimes involves removing small pieces of bone and bone spurs to free up more room for your rotator cuff tendons.

Any time you have a problem with your shoulder, you will find moving around and doing normal activities more difficult. While bursitis is not an uncommon reason for shoulder pain, you should still get checked out to make sure that you don't have anything serious and to pinpoint the cause. An orthopedic physician can examine your shoulder to pinpoint the possible cause and devise and treatment for bursitis and other joint problems.