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How to Treat Shoulder Bursitis


In order to treat shoulder bursitis it is important to know: Rest the area. Do not use your shoulder that is afflicted with bursitis to carry heavy objects or to move in repetitive motions-like ironing or carrying something with a strap over the shoulder. In treatment, use a cold compress in the painful areas for no more than ten minutes on fifteen minutes off. This will help reduce pain and inflammation. It is important that you do not leave the cold compress too long in one area as it can damage the tissue and restrict blood flow. The area around the bursae need blood flow to aid the healing process. If your physician or health care provider prescribes non-steroidal, anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen) take as directed. Do not start using your shoulder because it feels better. Talk to your physician first.

Bursae of the Shoulder

There are several bursae in the shoulder area. To clarify, bursae are fluid filled sacs working as natural shock absorbers that allow bone, muscle, and tendons to move freely and smoothly.

The bursae near the two shoulder blades (one on each side of your upper back) can be felt as a “ridge” type bone (really most of it is flat beneath the skin) and many of the muscles and tendons of the back, neck and arms are attached to it. Bursae lie appropriately in this area to allow freedom of movement and reduction of friction. Bursitis of the shoulder can painfully affect this area causing pain in the shoulder, arms and neck.

The areas of the shoulder all work together to make a very versatile, freely moving shoulder. Bursitis causes the bursae in these areas to swell putting pressure on the tendons, muscles that attach to the bone. Pain is the result often affecting the arms and neck.

Shoulder Joint

The two bones in the front of your shoulders, the collarbone or clavicle, are also places where bones, muscles, and tendons attach and effect the movement of the shoulder and arms. This area also has bursae that are appropriately placed to reduce friction and allow freedom of movement.

The shoulder joint is actually two parts that work together. The long bone of your upper arm is rounded at the shoulder and fits into a cup like boney structure at your shoulder. To allow freedom of movement bursae are in and around the surrounding round part of the one long bone and the cup shaped receiving bone at your shoulder.



“Shoulder Bursitis.” N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.

“Bursitis Symptoms, Treatment (Shoulder, Hip, Elbow, and More).” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. .

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