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Shoulder Bursitis Treatment Physiotherapy Calgary Chinook Rehab Centre

What is shoulder bursitis? Our Physiotherapist at Chinook Rehab can explain all

Your shoulders are, containing four entirely seperated joints each with their own muscle groups and bones.

Together, these bones contribute to the only joint in our body that’s designed to rotate a full 360 degrees.

When most clients come to Chinook Rehab Centre Physiotherapy Calgary with shoulder pain, it’s usually due to a lack of understanding as to how to use such a freely mobile joint safely and correctly.

These are fairly easy to treat: take the weight off your shoulders.

Depending on the injury, we might use:

  • Physiotherapy or Massage or specialised manual therapy techniques to restore proper joint capsule positioning for your shoulder
  • Exercise routines to get your shoulder back

One very common injury that people get is bursitis.

So, what is shoulder bursitis? And how can our Physiotherapist in Chinook Rehab Centre Physiotherapy can help to treat and manage it?

What’s a bursa?

Before we explain shoulder bursitis treatment, we need to explain what a bursa is.

Present in every joint in your body, bursa are fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions in your joints. Your bursae reduce friction in your joints by providing a soft buffer between your bones and the muscles around them.

Additionally, your bursae contain synovial cells, which produce a lubricant that further reduces the amount of friction in a joint. Combined, this cushioning and lubrication ensures that movement is completely effortless.

Finally, your bursae stops your bones and muscles from knocking into each other – without that, movement would be a literal pain.

What is shoulder bursitis? ( Subacromial Bursitis )

Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the bursae in your joints.

Bursitis causes your bursae to become inflamed and sore, resulting in difficult or painful movement. Additionally, continuing to use the affected joint can aggravate your bursa even further.

In most cases, this is caused by overuse of a joint with sub-optimal movement mechanics.

Repetitive actions such as typing, painting and some sports can strain your bursae, wearing them out.

Another common culprit is injury. Trauma from a fall can damage your bursae, leading to the tell-tale pain and swelling in your joints.

Other less-common causes can include:

  • Bones impinging on your bursae
  • Certain infections
  • Arthritis or gout in your joints
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents

Symptoms of shoulder bursitis

Oftentimes, the first sign of impending bursitis is pain and tenderness around your shoulder joint!

Dull, aching pain sometimes spreading down the arm can be a sign of bursitis.

If you find it uncomfortable to sleep on one side then this is often a tell-tale sign of bursitis!

Swelling is another sign to look out for.

Damage or strain on your bursae causes inflammation in the affected joint. While your shoulder contains multiple bursae, many of them are close to the surface, meaning that it’s pretty easy to tell when you have shoulder bursitis.

So if your shoulder pain comes with a noticeable bulge or unusual redness around the joint, it might well be a bursa issue!

For a proper diagnosis, it’s best to talk to a qualified physiotherapist.

Your Chinook Rehab Centre Physiotherapy Calgary explains shoulder bursitis treatment

How long does shoulder bursitis last? Well, that depends on how you treat it – and that’s where your expert physio in treating these conditions comes in.

All of our treatments are backed by an in-depth understanding of the human body and how the various muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones work.

Using a combination of massage, dry needling and shoulder and spine exercises, your physio can help reduce pain and promote recovery of the affected bursae.

In the case of bursitis caused by overuse, your physio can help you alter your routine to minimise the strain on your affected joint. Additionally, we might also prescribe joint protection tools such as braces and splints to protect your bursae from further aggravation.

In severe cases, you may have to go to a doctor to have your bursitis medically treated.

In extreme cases, hydrodilitation and cortisone may be needed to reduce the swelling in that bursa. However, you should not seek these injections before being assessed by your physiotherapist.

Overuse of cortisone can lead to brittle bones and a host of other health complications, so don’t be too quick to go down that road.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Your physiotherapist’s job doesn’t end with treatment. We’re all about the big picture – once treatment is over, our focus shifts to sustaining your strength and keeping your shoulder joint limber.

In addition to changing your routine during the recovery phase, your physio will also work with you to analyse how you use your shoulders. If repetitive tasks are part of your job for instance, a permanent change to your routine or technique might be needed to prevent the return of bursitis.

Strength exercises are another way your physio helps keep your shoulder healthy.

Strengthening exercises condition an affected joint for repetitive tasks and can increase its range of motion, reducing your chances of remission.

Other things you can do to stop bursitis from rearing its ugly head again include:

  • Reduce the strain on affected joints by undergoing re-training of your body’s movement
  • Taking regular breaks when performing repetitive tasks
  • Warming up adequately before exercise


Consult a physio in Chinook Rehab Centre Physiotherapy Calgary to manage and treat shoulder bursitis.Get out of pain and sustain your results with us.

Whether you’re a professional athlete, fitness freak, or everyday Canadian, an experienced physio can help you restore your ideal level of mobility that allows you to live your best life.

We invite you to book a treatment with our expert physiotherapist in Calgary, where, from your very first appointment, we will tell you:

  • What your treatment will involve
  • How long it will likely last
  • How frequently it should be

    Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment at Chinook Rehab Centre Physiotherapy Calgary

    Related Categories:

    Hip Issues


    Research Articles



    Share this page IntroductionPhysiotherapy in Calgary for Hip

    Welcome to Chinook Rehab Centre's patient resource about Trochanteric Bursitis of the Hip.

    A common spot for bursitis is on the side of the hip. Here a large tendon passes over the bony bump on the side of the hip. The bony bump is called the greater trochanter. Inflammation in the bursa between the tendon and the greater trochanter is called trochanteric bursitis. This problem is common in older individuals. It may also occur in younger patients who are extremely active in exercises such as walking, running, or biking.

    This guide will help you understand the following:

    • how trochanteric bursitis develops
    • how doctors diagnose the condition
    • what treatments are available

    Where is the trochanteric bursa, and what does it do?

    The hip joint is one of the true ball-and-socket joints of the body. The hip socket is called the acetabulum and forms a deep cup that surrounds the ball of the upper thigh bone (femur), or femoral head. Thick muscles of the buttock at the back and the thick muscles of the thigh in the front surround the hip.

    The greater trochanter is the large bump on the outside of the upper end of the femur. This bump is the point where the large buttock muscles that move the hip connect to the femur. The gluteus maximus is the largest of these muscles. It attaches lower down on the femur.

    Where friction occurs between muscles, tendons, and bones, there is usually a structure called a bursa. A bursa is a thin sac of tissue that contains fluid to lubricate the area and reduce friction. The bursa is a normal structure. The body will even produce a bursa in response to friction.

    Related Document: A Guide to Hip Anatomy

    Hip Anatomy Introduction


    Why do I have this problem?

    Sometimes a bursa can become inflamed (swollen and irritated) because of too much friction or because of an injury to the bursa. An inflamed bursa can cause pain because movement makes the structures around the bursa rub against it.

    Friction can build in the bursa during walking if the long tendon on the side of the thigh is tight. It is unclear what causes this tightening of the tendon.

    The gluteus maximus attaches to this long tendon. As you walk, the gluteus maximus pulls this tendon over the greater trochanter with each step. When the tendon is tight, it rubs against the bursa.

    The rubbing causes friction to build in the bursa, leading to irritation and inflammation. Friction can also start if the outer hip muscle (gluteus medius) is weak, if one leg is longer than the other, or if you run on banked (slanted) surfaces.


    Animation of rubbing on the bursa

    Most cases of trochanteric bursitis appear gradually with no obvious underlying injury or cause. Trochanteric bursitis can occur after artificial replacement of the hip joint or other types of hip surgery. The cause may be a combination of changes in the way the hip works, the way it is aligned, or the way scar tissue has formed from the healing incision.

    A fall on the hip can cause bleeding into the bursa, forming a hematoma. The bleeding is not serious, but the bursa may react to the blood by becoming inflamed. The inflammation causes the bursa to become thickened over time. This thickening, constant irritation, and inflammation may result in the condition becoming chronic, or long lasting.


    What does the condition feel like?

    The first symptom of trochanteric bursitis is usually pain. The pain can be felt in the area of the hip right over the bump that forms the greater trochanter. Eventually the pain may radiate down the outside of the thigh. As the problem progresses, the symptoms produce a limp when walking and stiffness in the hip joint. Eventually, the pain will also be present at rest and may even cause a problem with sleeping.


    At Chinook Rehab Centre, diagnosis of trochanteric bursitis begins with a history and physical examination. The physical examination will be done to determine how much stiffness you have in the hip and if you have a limp. Further physical tests may be done to rule out other causes of your hip pain. Our physiotherapist will also want to know when the pain began and which motions cause the pain.

    Some patients may be referred to a doctor for further diagnosis. Once your diagnostic examination is complete, the physiotherapists at Chinook Rehab Centre have treatment options that will help speed your recovery, so that you can more quickly return to your active lifestyle. 

    Related Document: Osteoarthritis of the Hip

    Chinook Rehab Centre provides services for physiotherapy in Calgary.

    Our Treatment

    Non-surgical Rehabilitation

    At Chinook Rehab Centre, treatment of trochanteric bursitis usually begins with simple measures used to calm inflammation, and may include heat or ice applications. Our physiotherapist uses hands-on treatment and stretching to help restore your full hip range of motion. Improving strength and coordination in the buttock and hip muscles enables the femur to move in the socket smoothly and can help reduce friction on the bursa. Time required for recovery and rehabilitation varies for each patient, but as a guideline, you may expect to attend physiotherapy sessions for four to six weeks before full motion and function return.

    Younger patients who have this condition because of overuse can usually be treated by reducing their activities or changing the way they do their activities. Decreased activity, combined with our exercise physiotherapy program of stretching and strengthening, and perhaps a brief course of anti-inflammatory medications, will usually resolve the problem. Patients may also want to consult with their doctor or pharmacist regarding the use of pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication.

    Although the vast majority of our patients with trochanteric bursitis never require surgery, if you do, the physiotherapists at Chinook Rehab Centre can provide a personalized post-surgical physiotherapy program to help speed your recovery so that you can more quickly return to your active lifestyle.

    Post-surgical Rehabilitation

    If you have surgery, your hip will be bandaged with a well-padded dressing. Although the amount of physiotherapy a patient needs relates to his or her own speed of recovery, as a general rule, you may expect to attend physiotherapy sessions at Chinook Rehab Centre  for up to two months after surgery.

    Our first few treatment sessions will focus on controlling the pain and swelling after surgery. We will then have you begin exercises that gradually stretch and strengthen the muscles around the hip joint. Our physiotherapist will help you retrain these muscles to keep the ball of the femur moving smoothly in the socket. We will also provide you with tips on ways to do your activities without straining the hip joint.

    At Chinook Rehab Centre, our goal is to help speed your recovery so that you can more quickly return to your everyday activities. When your recovery is well under way, regular visits to our office will end. Although we will continue to be a resource, you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.

    Chinook Rehab Centre provides services for physiotherapy in Calgary.

    Physician Review

    Your physician may order X-rays to make sure that there are no other abnormalities in the hip. X-rays will usually not show trochanteric bursitis. If X-rays are suggested, they are to rule out other problems that may be causing your hip pain. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether the pain you are suffering is from trochanteric bursitis or underlying arthritis of the hip joint. An X-ray may give more information about the condition of the hip joint itself.

    An injection of a local anesthetic into the bursa can also help your doctor diagnose trochanteric bursitis. If the injection removes the pain immediately, then the diagnosis is probably trochanteric bursitis. Most physicians will also add a bit of cortisone medication to the novocaine to help treat the condition at the same time. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. It can reduce swelling and pain when injected directly into the bursa. The injection will probably not cure the problem. But it may control the symptoms for months.


    Surgery is rarely needed to treat trochanteric bursitis. When all else fails and the pain is disabling, your doctor may recommend surgery. Several types of surgical procedures are available to treat trochanteric bursitis.

    The primary goal of all procedures designed to treat this condition is to remove the thickened bursa, to remove any bone spurs that may have formed on the greater trochanter, and to relax the large tendon of the gluteus maximus. Some surgeons prefer to simply lengthen the tendon a bit, and some prefer to remove a section of the tendon that rubs directly on the greater trochanter. Both procedures give good results.

    Related Document: A Guide to Trochanteric Bursitis Surgery

    Portions of this document copyright MMG, LLC.

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