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When To Consider Subacromial Bursa Injections for Your Shoulder Pain

When To Consider Subacromial Bursa Injections for Your Shoulder Pain

John S. Michels, MD, is an award-winning pain management specialist with a busy practice in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. He’s on a mission to provide his patients with minimally invasive, highly effective, nonsurgical treatments for acute and chronic pain.

Read when and why Dr. Michels prescribes subacromial bursa injections for painful shoulder bursitis and what you can expect during and after the treatment.

Understanding bursitis

Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning between bones, tendons, muscles, and connective tissue structures in joints. These small sacs allow frictionless movement in joints and are especially important in the shoulders, which are in constant demand throughout your day.

The subacromial bursae cushion the area between the rotator cuff tendons and the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion). These bursae allow smooth joint motion when you move or lift your arms. 

For example, they are vital to pain-free shoulder movement when you throw a ball or swing a racquet. Subacromial bursae also engage during simple tasks such as twisting a doorknob or reaching for your keys.

Bursitis occurs when a bursa fills with fluid, becoming irritated and inflamed and causing symptoms such as:

Bursitis can affect any of the 160 bursae in your body but is most common in the shoulders.

What causes bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis may result from an injury sustained during a fall, a lifting mishap, or other trauma. But it’s most often related to overuse or repetitive shoulder movements in sports or work activities.

Overhead activities cause increased friction in the joint, which can irritate and inflame the subacromial bursae, leading to pain and stiffness in the surrounding tissues. Bursitis often occurs in the dominant shoulder but may involve both.

Painters, carpenters, construction workers, and athletes who play football, softball, or lacrosse are at increased risk of developing bursitis. In addition, certain chronic conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, and thyroid disorders, also increase your risk.

Why would you need a subacromial bursa injection?

Dr. Michels may recommend a subacromial bursa injection if other conservative measures such as rest, ice, and activity modification do not adequately relieve your symptoms. Also, physical therapy is often recommended to help restore shoulder range of motion and prevent complications such as frozen shoulder.

A subacromial bursa injection contains a steroid that reduces inflammation and an anesthetic for pain relief. As the inflammation decreases, pain, stiffness, and other symptoms fade. Dr. Michels performs the procedure using ultrasound imaging to ensure accuracy as he injects the inflamed bursa.

A topical anesthetic prevents discomfort at the injection site. You may feel pressure as the medicine enters the bursa, but it’s otherwise a painless and quick in-office procedure that usually takes less than 10 minutes.

Dr. Michels may ask you to limit activity that stresses your shoulder for 24 hours, but results are usually apparent within 24-48 hours.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Michels today for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment strategy for chronic or acute pain. Call the office or request an appointment online.

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