Shoulder: Arthritis Bursa

Arthritis Bursitis in the shoulder is very painful. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joint. It is different from bursitis. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled patch found in between bones, muscles, tendons, and skin. The bursa brings lubrication and decreases friction and irritation. It is not only found in the shoulder, but the shoulder is one place of the body that contains a bursa. When the bursa is inflamed, it leads to pain and affects the motion of your shoulder. When arthritis leads to bursitis, treatment has to be done.

arthritis shoulder pain sports medicine orthopedic surgery surgeon top10md md doctorThe body contains 160 bursae total. The major bursae are found in larger joints like the hip, shoulder, and knee joints. The bursa of the shoulder joint is relatively large and lies between the shoulder bone and humerus bone. It brings lubrication to the shoulder and prevents friction. If the bursa were not there, the shoulder bone would rub against the shoulder bone. Bone to bone friction is extremely painful. The bursa is subject to inflammation. Inflammation can be due to arthritis or shoulder injury. A dislocated shoulder or tear in the shoulder leads to inflammation, and part of that inflammation is the bursa.

Arthritis is inflammation of the joint. The joint tends to be stiff and sore. The one thing about arthritis is that it gradually worsens. Bursa inflammation from injury may not require surgery, but bursa inflammation from arthritis may require more treatment. There is no cure for arthritis. Since there is no cure, it complicates treatment for bursitis. Arthritis is something that may result with no specific cause. It can be a hereditary issue. The injury may eventually lead to arthritis, but it is not always a cause. Bursitis, on the other hand, can be caused by injury. Overuse of the shoulder and incorrect stretching of the shoulder can cause bursitis.


Bursitis is typically seen in people over the age of forty. Arthritis typically does not occur until you are older as well. Bursitis from arthritis can occur earlier in life depending on injuries you have to your shoulder. Symptoms of bursitis include a persistent build-up of pain. Pain may start as minor and can be treated with over the counter medication. Eventually, the pain increases to the point you have trouble even moving your shoulder. You may lose all motion in your shoulder called frozen shoulder. Lifting your arm will be nearly impossible. If you have these symptoms, you need to see a sports medicine physician.

Once you explain your symptoms to a sports medicine doctor, they will do a few test. They will first feel the shoulder area and examine where your pain is coming from as well as how much swelling is happening. The first diagnostic test will more than likely be an X-ray. If the X-ray does not show anything, then an MRI may be done. The X-ray typically shows calcifications if bursitis has been chronic. The MRI shows the bursa and the whole joint. Through MRI, you can see whether or not arthritis is the source of the problem. Arthritis related bursitis requires treatment.

Arthritis Bursa md top10mdTreatment

Treatment may initially be rest. You might have to lay off of doing certain activities. If your normal job requires the use of your shoulder, you may not be able to rest. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs can take care of the problem initially but eventually that will not be enough. If the pain progresses, corticosteroids are used. The doctor will inject a shot in the arm. The shot typically takes the pain away temporarily. It does not cure the problem. The problem with corticosteroids is that you will have to continue to get them to keep away the pain. It is not good to get these shots all the time. They have side effects and can mask other problems. If you have a corticosteroid shot in your arm, you may never know that you have a rotator cuff injury. When the pain in the arm is masked, you cannot feel the symptoms of other shoulder issues. If arthritis becomes too painful, you may need a total shoulder replacement. A doctor does not like to suggest surgery initially. They will probably suggest physical therapy first. If therapy does not work, then surgery is the last resort.

Bursitis of the shoulder is painful, but arthritis only makes things worst. Arthritis sometimes leads to bursitis. Symptoms of arthritis-related bursitis include pain and stiffness. You will probably ignore the first signs of pain, but as that pain continues, you will have no choice but to seek medical attention. It is important to get treatment as soon as possible, or your condition will only get worse. If you cannot rest your arm due to your job, you should try physical therapy first. If your symptoms do not improve, surgery may be the next step. Speaking with your sports medicine doctor can give you a lot of answers and help you understand arthritis bursitis in the shoulder.


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