top of page

A comprehensive guide to self-assessment and management of shoulder pain and bursitis

Shoulder pain is very common. In fact, each year 1 in 2 people will have at least one episode of shoulder pain.

A common cause of shoulder pain is shoulder bursitis. This blog post is your guide to understanding, assessing and managing shoulder pain, specifically bursitis.  

The blog post is broken down into the following sections:

  1. Understanding shoulder bursitis

  2. Self-assessment of shoulder movement

  3. Treatment approach for shoulder rehabilitation

Part 1: Understanding shoulder bursitis

What is bursitis?

Many joints of your body have fluid-filled sacs called bursae (plural for bursa). A bursa's job is to act as a cushion between tendons, muscles and bones to stop friction and irritation between them. Trouble is, sometimes the bursa itself gets a bit irritated (aka inflamed). The inflammation of a bursa is known as bursitis

What causes shoulder bursitis?

Remember, shoulder bursitis in an inflammation or irritation of the bursa. This is commonly caused by either over-using or over-stretching the bursa. 

  • Overuse

Frequent and repetitive work with the hands, especially with the hands above your head, can lead to shoulder bursitis. Also, repetitive lifting (usually with less-than-ideal technique) can cause shoulder bursitis. 

  • Overstretch

A rapid stretching of the shoulder joint may also lead to shoulder bursitis. We often see this in athletes playing sports which require throwing (e.g. baseball, cricket). However, the overstretch can also occur due to a fall. That is, as one is falling, they try to catch something like a pole or wall which can cause an overstretching at the shoulder joint. 

Other causes of shoulder bursitis include: