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Shoulder Impingement and Bursitis

Bursitis of the shoulder is characterized by swelling and redness at the shoulder. Also known as impingement syndrome, a patient may develop problems in their shoulder joint. Between the top of the arm bone and the tip of the shoulder reside the tendons of the rotator cuff. These tendons, for affected individuals, are unable to slide effortlessly within its space. Space may become too small for regular motion, leading to irritation, swelling, and inflammation in the tendons and bursa. This leads to a further reduction in space, causing more discomfort.

The most common causes of developing Bursitis are injury or overuse. Older patients may also experience these symptoms due to extended wear and tear. Patients with arthritis, gout, diabetes, tendonitis, and thyroid disease are also at a higher risk of developing the disease. The condition could also be a result of genetic disposition. Some patients may have lesser space between their bones.

Bursitis of the shoulder often occurs as a result of an initial injury leading to inflammation. Due to the nature of the condition, the patient may slowly spiral into a worse state. The inflammation leads to the thickening of the tendons and liquid-sacks at the joint. This can lead to an impingement in the shoulder.

Bursitis in the shoulder is diagnosed via imaging such as X-ray, MRI, and ultrasound. These scans give insight into the shoulder joint, allowing a medical professional to investigate a patient’s situation. Doctors may also look for signs of infection or gout by the method of aspiration. Aspiration is the process of using a thin needle to release the fluid from the swollen bursa. Blood tests may also be performed to rule out other possible conditions.

Patients may experience persistent pain during everyday tasks, bulging, lumping, or redness in the affected joint. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please consult a doctor. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments available, depending on the severity of the condition. Reducing inflammation through minimal movement and using anti-inflammatory drugs are the first line of treatment. Once the pain subsides, a patient should start practicing physical therapy to regain full control and motion in their shoulder joint. Primary muscle strengthing and stretching can help reduce the risk of re-emergence of the condition. Steroidal injections to reduce inflammation may also be prescribed. Though these injections have many side effects associated with them, they’re very effective at reducing inflammation. Repeated injections can cause damage and weakening of the tendons and thus should be avoided. In worse cases, surgery may be necessary.

Prevention is better than cure. There are a few things a person can do to avoid developing this condition. Warming up before exercises, taking adequate breaks while performing repetitive tasks, and practicing good posture can help reduce Bursitis’s risk.