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Bursitis is a painful condition due to inflammation of a small, fluid-filled sac known as a bursa. There are several bursae throughout the body, which act as cushions around joints, reducing impact and friction. This is especially important with joints that experience a lot of repetitive movement that would otherwise cause excessive contact and rubbing. Bursitis as a condition, is broadly stating that there is inflammation of a bursa and in most cases this is causing pain.

The most commonly inflamed bursae in the body are located in the shoulder, hip, elbow and knee


Shoulder bursa

Shoulder bursa

Hip bursa

Hip bursa

Elbow bursa

Elbow bursa

Knee bursa

Knee bursa


The most common form of bursitis is associated with the shoulder, known as sub-acromial bursitis. Patients will often report aching pain that is worse during sleep, sharp pain with daily movement and there is often limited range of motion.
Most cases of bursitis will experience some form of:
⚠️ Aching pain
⚠️ Sharp pain with movement
⚠️ Tenderness to local pressure
⚠️ Reduced range of motion
Redness, warmth, swelling and fever can be caused by an infected bursa, however this is not typical in most cases of bursitis which are due to mechanical overload.


Bursitis is often an overuse injury, where the bursa has become chronically inflamed due to repetitive movements and excessive friction on the tissue. In these cases, it is important to understand WHY the mechanical movement has caused the bursa to become inflamed and WHY it has not healed on its own.
In most cases there has been dysfunctional movement in the joint over time, which caused excessive friction on the bursa leading to inflammation that hasn’t resolved. The most common causes of poor movement are:
🔱 Fibrous adhesion 👉   Learn More
🔱 Nerve entrapment 👉   Learn More
🔱 Tigger points
🔱 Weakness & compensatory movement


A diagnosis of bursitis is usually reached via diagnostic imaging, most frequently with ultrasound or MRI. While it is helpful to know that the bursa in inflamed, a diagnosis of Bursitis is only a very small part of the clinical picture.
A full clinical diagnosis should list the tissues and associated pathologies that have contributed to the bursa becoming inflamed. We need to know WHY this has happened in order to provide appropriate treatment.

✅  Full history – all the details of your unique case
✅  Clinical evaluation – including hands-on palpation and clinical testing (functional testing, orthopedic testing)


It is important to restore normal shoulder function to deload an inflamed bursa and reduce chronic inflammation.

▶️ Hands-on soft tissue treatment
▶️ Instrument-assisted soft tissue treatment
▶️ Shockwave therapy
▶️ Rehabilitation exercises

 Bursitis is often treated initially with anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs, corticosteroids), which is aimed at reducing inflammation and therefore reducing pain. This approach alone does not address the surrounding dysfunction that has caused the bursa to become inflamed over time and therefore the relief is often short-lived.

If you, or anyone that you know is suffering with bursitis that won’t go away despite everything you’ve tried so far, please consider scheduling an Initial Consultation (link below on this page).

Dr. Christopher Aysom, Principal Clinician
BChiroSc, MChiro (Chiropractor)

Apex Soft Tissue & Spine
Pymble, NSW, Australia

initial consultation

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