shoulder bursitis


The blue area represents the bursa sac that provides lubrication between tissues in the shoulder. (Front view of a right shoulder shown). Bursitis literally means "inflammation of the bursa". Bursa's are sacs of fluid that provide lubrication between tendons, muscles and bones. As we discuss in the causes section, bursitis is usually a symptom of other underlying problems.

When the bursa becomes inflamed, it becomes swollen with more fluid. It becomes thicker and VERY tender. Often the entire shoulder will be so tender that one can hardly touch it or use it. It often comes on very suddenly with too much of any activity, and will go away almost as quickly.

What's Going Wrong In Bursitis?

How Activities Can Lead To A Sudden Onset of Bursitis
Bursitis is an "Oops, I over did it!" injury. For example, someone who has never swam a lap before in their life, and then goes out and swims a mile, can develop inflammation of the bursa in the shoulder simply from overdoing it. Usually bursitis involves aspects of doing TOO MUCH to the shoulder along with using a shoulder that already has bad biomechanics due to the following problems.

1. Adhesion.
Actually, the most common cause of bursitis is impingement syndrome, and the most common cause of impingement syndrome is adhesion. (You may refer to the IMPINGEMENT SYNDROME section more detail.) The buildup of adhesion in muscles that balance your shoulder causes the humerus to lose proper alignment as you use the shoulder, leading to impingement of the bursa.
2. Strength and Flexibility Imbalances.
Strength and flexibility imbalance of the Scapula Muscles (the muscles that control shoulder blade position) may also lead to impingement or irritation of the bursa.
3. Structural Damage or Alteration.
The same causes discussed in the impingement syndrome section apply here. For more info, see What's Going Wrong In Impingement Syndrome?

How Can ART Help Bursitis?

The first priority in treating bursitis effectively is to rest the shoulder and let the inflammation calm down. Taking a natural anti-inflammatory along with applying cold packs to the area is an effective strategy. This will do the trick for those cases where someone just went out and did too much, too soon.

However, for those cases where the bursitis persists when trying to return to activity, ART is usually very helpful. This is because the bursitis is quite often due to biomechanical imbalances caused by adhesion build-up in the shoulder. For these cases 100% recovery can be expected with ART. Removing adhesions in the muscles that balance the shoulder stops the pinching of the bursa, and the tissues heal, resolving the pain. The treatment approach is relatively the same as it is for impingement syndrome.

Success Stories of Those For Whom Bursitis Was a Component of a Larger Shoulder Problem

  • Gina Kehr - Professional Ironman Triathlete
  • Curtis McGovert - Founder of The Muscle Factory, 1st Place winner of Light Heavyweight Mr. San Francisco & Mr. San Jose, 3rd Place Mr. California
  • Frank Lisowski - President, DFLA California Inc.
  • BJ Penn - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, UFC #1 Lightweight Contender