Shoulder Bursitis (cont.)

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How is shoulder bursitis treated?

The treatment of any form of bursitis depends on whether or not it involves infection. Infection of a shoulder bursa is uncommon, and bursitis that develops there is usually from injury. Bursitis that is not infected (from injury or an underlying rheumatic disease) can be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Occasionally, it requires aspiration of the bursa fluid. This procedure involves removal of the fluid with a needle and syringe under sterile conditions and can be performed in the doctor's office. Sometimes the fluid is sent to the laboratory for further analysis. Noninfectious shoulder bursitis can also be treated with an injection of cortisone medication into the swollen bursa. This is sometimes done at the same time as the aspiration procedure. Physical therapy can sometimes be used to aid the recovery from bursitis, especially when it is accompanied by a frozen shoulder.

Infectious (septic) bursitis, which again is uncommon in the shoulder, requires even further evaluation and aggressive treatment. The bursal fluid can be examined in the laboratory to identify the microbes causing the infection. Septic bursitis requires antibiotic therapy, sometimes intravenously. Repeated aspiration of the inflamed fluid may be required. Surgical drainage and removal of the infected bursa sac (bursectomy) may also be necessary. Generally, the adjacent joint functions normally after the surgical wound heals.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/2/2012

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