Shoulder Bursitis

What is bursitis and how did you get it?
Lets start with what a bursa is. The bursa is a fluid filled pouch that acts as a cushion between the bones of your shoulder and arm and the tendons and soft tissues that attach to them. Bursitis is an inflammation or irritation of this pouch. Bursitis is also often associated with tendonitis.

As I often say, any things can lead to the onset of a condition. Bursitis can be related to:

  • Trauma: did you fall, were you in a car accident;
  • Overuse: How many coats of paint did you apply over the weekend, were you a weekend warrior on the softball field?
  • Muscle Imbalance: are there some muscles that are too tight in your neck or the front of your shoulder or too weak in the back of the shoulder? Muscle imbalance can lead postural changes or changes in how your shoulder moves, leading to stress on the bursa or other shoulder structures.

Now what can you do about it?

  • You can use ice to control pain.
  • Doing some basic stretching and exercise can resolve the muscle imbalances.
  • Isolated exercises that control the shoulder blade and the rotator cuff muscles should help with the movement issues.
  • Manual therapy, to improve the mobility of the shoulder joint or the surrounding soft tissue and muscles, will help decrease compression on the bursa and tendons.

The most often prescribed exercises are based on what structures are at fault. Assessment by your physical therapist can identify the likely problems and instruct you in the appropriate treatment, exercises and interventions to resolve the problem. Check with your local PT who specializes in manual therapy (hands on treatments) to get the answers you need. If you are in the RI area you can schedule a free consultation by contacting us at RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy or call (401) 884-9541

Weight Lifter’s Elbow??

Weight lifter’s elbow? Never heard of it! How about Mommy’s elbow? Carpenter’s elbow? Typer’s elbow? Salesman elbow? ….. No?

Perhaps Tennis or Golfer’s elbow? Yes I am sure that most of you have heard of these 2 issues. But all the others are the same problem. Any of the options above create similar stress on the elbow as does tennis or golf. Mom tries to do all her tasks one handed while keeping hold of a crying child; Joe swings a hammer or holds a drill overhead for hours at a time; Jean decides that doing 3 sets of lateral raises with increased weight should be OK; and Fred sits at his computer programming all day long with fingers flying across the keys.

All of these tasks stress the forearm muscles. These muscles actually are responsible for motions and movements at the wrist. The common extensors are the muscles that pull your wrist up and they attach to the outside condyle (bony area) of your elbow and the common flexors attach to the inside condyle and they pull our wrist down. They also control the movements of the fingers for opening and closing the hand.

So how does the elbow get injured in these activities? As the muscles contract and hold that drill steady the muscle puts strain on the tendon where it inserts into the elbow. This force on the bony anchor can lead to microscopic trauma over time. Little tears that our body heals without difficulty. But the healing can lead to decreased flexibility and strength. As time goes by the injury progresses and the tendon begins to be painful. This is now a tendonitis — inflammation of the tendon. This is the best time to treat this condition. The longer a tendon remains inflamed and irritated the more change takes place at the tendon making it more difficult to resolve.

What are the signs of elbow tendonitis?

  • Stiff, achy elbow joint
  • Sharp elbow pain with lifting and gripping
  • Difficulty picking up your coffee cup
  • Difficulty with lifting especially with the arm out in front

How can you treat tendonitis at home?

  • Rrest the elbow.
  • Stretch the muscles of the forearm.
  • Massage the tendon where it inserts into the bone.
  • Perform eccentric or lengthening type exercises for the involved muscle group (1-2#).
  • Ice

Arm out in front. Bend hand toward ceiling.

Arm out in front. Bend hand toward floor

Arm out in front thumb to floor. Push hand away from body.

Massage tendon across side to side at elbow.

Start position. Slowly lower hand.

End position.

If you are unable to resolve the symptoms see your physical therapist for more detailed and focal treatment. Visit RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy