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If you have shoulder pain, you have a lot of company. Data show about 70% of Americans will have shoulder pain at some point in their lives, including pain from shoulder bursitis.

As a top-rated orthopedics doctor in McKinney, Texas, Dominique Nickson, MD, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating shoulder bursitis in patients at Next Step Orthopedics. He’s also skilled at helping patients prevent those painful symptoms. Here’s what he wants you to know about shoulder bursitis and what steps you can take to keep it at bay.

How shoulder bursitis happens

A bursa is a tiny, fluid-filled sac that cushions the moving parts of your joints, helping your joints move smoothly and fluidly. In your shoulder, bursae are located between large tendons and the shoulder bone.

Bursitis happens when a bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, typically because of excess friction from overuse or repetitive joint use. Sometimes, bursitis can happen after a shoulder injury or as a result of an infection.

In addition to pain, bursitis can cause shoulder swelling, tenderness, and warmth around the joint. Typically, pain is located along the shoulder’s side, and it worsens when lifting your arm over your head or when sleeping on your side.

Treating bursitis

Many patients find their bursitis is relieved with conservative treatments, like:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Shoulder injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Splinting
  • Rest and ice

Anyone can develop bursitis, but the risk is increased in people with diabetes, thyroid disorders, and arthritis. If bursitis isn’t treated, it can progress to a more serious problem, called impingement, which may require surgery.

Because the bursae and tendons are located next to each other in your shoulder, many people with shoulder bursitis also have shoulder tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon). Early treatment is important for stopping the cycle of inflammation — but it’s even better if you can prevent it in the first place.

Preventing shoulder bursitis

There’s not much you can do to prevent bursitis associated with an infection or an injury, like a fall or car accident. But there are things you can do to prevent one of the most common causes of bursitis — overuse.

If your job or hobby requires repetitive shoulder use, try to take frequent breaks to give your joint time to rest in between activities. If you’re starting a new activity, work into it gradually to allow your shoulder time to adjust and build strength.

In sports, bursitis is especially common with activities that require throwing, swinging, or the use of your arms over your head. You can reduce your risk of bursitis in these activities by always warming up before play, so your shoulder is warm and flexible.

Rest your shoulders and apply ice at the first sign of pain. If your symptoms continue or get worse, call the office right away. Early management is the best way to prevent a minor shoulder problem from worsening quickly.

Relieve your nagging shoulder pain

Although it’s common, bursitis is just one possible cause of shoulder pain. To find out why your shoulder is sore — and what we can do to help — call us at (972) 547-0047 or book an appointment online with Dr. Nickson and the team at Next Step Orthopedics today.

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