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What should I avoid if I have shoulder bursitis?

What should I avoid if I have shoulder bursitis?


What is shoulder bursitis?

Within our shoulder we have multiple bursa, which are little sacs of fluid that help to reduce any friction between the tendons and bones within the joint. However, if our shoulder is in a position for a prolonged time that is irritating the bursa (e.g. painting a house) or if we injure any of the muscles, tendons and ligaments within our shoulder, fluid can accumulate within the bursa, causing bursitis! Like if we had a blister on the back of our heel (sac of fluid) and we wore shoes that kept rubbing against it, its going to inflame the blister and make it bigger and more sensitive.



3 main activities to avoid:

1. Avoid sleeping on the affected shoulder

  • When we sleep on our affected shoulder, you will be placing more pressure directly onto the bursa that is inflamed. In turn, this will not allow the bursa to settle and will continue to compress it, causing more pain and inflammation in the region.
  • Instead, try to sleep on your back or on the other side, propping your sore shoulder up with a pillow to avoid rolling onto the sore side.

Avoid repetitive overhead & across body activities

  • We need to give the bursa time to settle, and avoid doing any activities that will put our shoulder into an impinging position. Continuing to repetitively use our arm overhead or across the body will continue to irritate the bursa and not let it settle. Activities such as cleaning high windows, painting high ceilings, sweeping, vacuuming, placing objects on high shelves for a prolonged time, should try to be avoided.










3. Avoid long lever lifting

  • Long lever lifting is when we lift an object or small weight with a straight elbow. As the arm will be in an elongated position, it will increase the load that is placed on the shoulder joint. In turn, this will place more pressure on the bursa if the muscles aren’t strong enough to help support the joint.
  • Instead, bring the object closer to you and lift it with a bent elbow to reduce the amount of load going through the shoulder


If you continue to have pain after avoiding the aggravating activities, manual therapy and specific exercise prescription from a Physiotherapist will help to improve your range of motion and build strength within the shoulder will help relieve bursitis pain.

What should I avoid if I have shoulder bursitis?

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