Shoulder Bursitis



6 – 12 wks

Frozen shoulder

What is shoulder bursitis?

The more technical name is ‘sub-acromial bursitis’ which is helpful if you want to sound like a know-it-all but means the same thing. The bursa is like a water cushion. It helps cushion the tendon and give it a bit of tender loving care but it can get grumpy and inflamed if overloaded/stressed. The ‘itis’ bit of bursitis means inflammation so think of it as a grumpy water cushion and you’ve got the gist.

Why does shoulder bursitis happen?

Mixed bag of reasons. Often happens because the rotator cuff tendon that it lovingly cares for is overloaded. And rotator cuff tendons are prone to a bit of load – especially as we get older, or are a woman, or have diabetes, or menopause or dodgy shoulder mechanics. You can also get an acute bursitis (more of an injury than a ‘process’). Usually from landing on the point of your shoulder or on an outstretched arm.

What can you do about shoulder bursitis? Shoulder Bursitis Physiotherapy in Newcastle.

1. Stop annoying it – Don’t do nothing but its probably best to avoid lots of the actions that poke the bear. Overhead? Reaching behind you? Lying on it at night? Avoid if too sore. 2. Tape it up. Can help take some pressure off the bursa and make it feel more comfy. 3. Get your muscles stronger. Your rotator cuff definitely needs work. There are lots of ways of doing this so speak to your physio to find the best exercises for you. Strength is key. 4. If your shoulder bursitis is really not improving, sometimes a corticosteroid injection can help settle it down.

How long will shoulder bursitis take?

Depends on the cause but mostly inflammation can take 6 wks to settle but if the reason that the shoulder bursa is grumpy doesn’t change it can be a lot longer. Shoulder bursitis is common to take up to 12 wks due to the tendon irritation and how easy it is to aggravate it.


Don’t forget to keep asking ‘why?’ If the bursa is inflamed > why? > the rotator cuff is dodgy > why? > weak muscles around your shoulder blade > why? > your upper back is too stiff > why? > you sit at a desk all day – This is just an example (but pretty common). Get to the guts of the problem with your physio so you can get a proper fix. Not a short-term bandaid!

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If pain persists, you may require the help of a professional physio. Contact Brightside Physio to make an appointment.


Brightside Physio
90 Elder St
Lambton (Newcastle)
NSW 2299

New location!
15 Lambton Rd
Broadmeadow (Newcastle)
NSW 2292



Find parking via De Vitre Street and walk down side alley to Elder Street entrance.



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Call us on (02) 4062 8862