416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 8pm

416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

Osteopathic Treatment Of Shoulder Bursitis

Published by Better Health Osteopathy on 4 May 2023, Shoulder Pain

As Osteopaths, we have treated many patients suffering from shoulder bursitis. This common condition can be quite painful and limiting, but there are many effective treatment options available, including osteopathic care. In this article, we’ll explore the anatomy of the shoulder, the symptoms and causes of bursitis, and the different ways that osteopathy can help manage this condition.

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a complex joint that consists of several bones, including the scapula, clavicle, and humerus. These bones are held together by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that help to provide stability and allow for a wide range of motion. The shoulder joint is surrounded by a fluid-filled sac called the bursa, which acts as a cushion between the bones and soft tissues. It is when this bursa becomes inflamed that you start to feel pain in your shoulder.

Shoulder Bursitis Symptoms

Shoulder bursitis is a condition that occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed and irritated. This can cause pain and discomfort, especially when lifting or moving the arm, or sleeping on it. Other common symptoms of shoulder bursitis include:

  1. Swelling and stiffness in the shoulder
  2. Difficulty moving the arm
  3. Weakness in the shoulder
  4. Aching or burning sensation in the shoulder
  5. Pain that worsens at night
  6. Difficulty sleeping when lying on the affected shoulder

Shoulder Bursitis Causes

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of shoulder bursitis, including:

  1. Repetitive overhead movements: Activities such as painting, swimming, or throwing a ball can cause the bursa to become inflamed over time.
  2. Injury: A fall or other trauma to the shoulder can cause the bursa to become inflamed.
  3. Poor posture: Slouching or hunching over can put extra strain on the shoulder joint and increase the risk of bursitis.
  4. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of developing bursitis.

Osteopathic Treatment For Shoulder Bursitis

During treatment, our focus is directed towards addressing the underlying cause of your pain. Often the treatment approach we adopt will not be limited solely to the shoulder region but will involve an examination of the entire spinal column, comprising the cervical, thoracic, elbow and wrist regions. By doing so, we are better positioned to identify additional structures that may be contributing to your injury. Our treatment protocol adopts a very holistic approach. We take into account other predisposing factors that may be at play, such as postural malalignment, poor ergonomic settings at the workstation, and muscular imbalances throughout the body. By addressing these additional factors alongside osteopathic treatment, we aim to provide a comprehensive management plan that will address the root cause of your pain.

During treatment, Osteopaths use a range of manual therapy techniques to help reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve overall function. Here are some of the ways that osteopathy can help with shoulder bursitis:

  1. Soft tissue massage: This technique involves relieving muscle tension and promotes relaxation in the muscles around the shoulder.
  2. Rehabilitation exercises: Osteopaths may prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises to help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in the shoulder joint.
  3. Joint manipulation: This technique involves releasing joints and improving overall movement in a controlled manner to help reduce pain and increase the range of movement in the shoulder.
  4. Muscle energy techniques: This technique involves contracting the affected muscles against resistance to help stretch them and improve joint mobility.
  5. Myofascial release: This technique involves releasing connective tissue surrounding the affected area to help reduce pain and improve mobility.

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections may be recommended as a treatment option for patients with severe shoulder bursitis, particularly if other non-surgical treatments have not been effective.

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can help reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area. When injected directly into the shoulder joint, corticosteroids can provide targeted relief and reduce inflammation in the bursa.

It is important to note that while corticosteroid injections can be effective in relieving symptoms of shoulder bursitis, they are not a cure for the underlying condition. For some patients, corticosteroidal injections may provide very little relief.  In these cases, repeated injections may be needed to try and get some relief. Your Osteopath can make a direct referral for you to receive this treatment if needed.

How Long Will It Take For My Shoulder Bursitis To Heal?

The healing time for shoulder bursitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the treatment options used. In most cases, patients can expect to see improvement within a few weeks of starting treatment. However, it may take several months for the shoulder to fully heal.

Self-Help Strategies

There are several things that patients can do at home to help manage their shoulder bursitis symptoms and speed up the healing process. These include:

  1. Resting the affected shoulder as much as possible
  2. Using ice or heat therapy to reduce pain and inflammation
  3. Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or voltaron, as directed by your GP
  4. Avoiding activities that cause pain or strain in the affected shoulder
  5. Practising good posture to reduce strain on the shoulder joint
  6. Following your rehabilitation programme as prescribed by your osteopath

Contact Us

If you are suffering from shoulder bursitis, osteopathic care can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall function. Our team of skilled osteopaths can provide a range of osteopathic techniques to help reduce pain and inflammation, improve mobility, and speed up the healing process. Contact us today to book your appointment and take the first step towards a pain-free shoulder.

If you’re suffering from shoulder bursitis, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Better Health Osteopathy

Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible. Lorraine is also a clinic tutor on the Osteopathic Course in Ara and relishes the opportunity to teach the next generation of osteopaths.