Bursitis, tendinitis and an irritated rotator cuff are the leading causes of shoulder pain.


The rotator cuff, a group of tendons and muscles deep in the shoulder, help stabilize the upper-arm bone in the shoulder joint and rotate the arm.

When the arm is raised overhead repeatedly, the tendons rub against the underside of the shoulder bone and become irritated.

Rotator cuff disorders


The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions the rotator-cuff tendons from the shoulder bone. An irritated bursa is caused by an inflamed rotator cuff.

When inflamed, the bursa produces extra fluid, the sac expands and the pressure creates pain.

What causes bursitis?

Irritated Rotator Cuff

Excessive wear on the rotator cuff can lead to severe irritation, roughening and eventually ulceration and tearing of the cuff. An irritated rotator cuff feels like a clicking or popping in the shoulder and can produce arm weakness.

Symptoms of all these conditions include continuous dull ache in the shoulder that can become sharp pain when you try to move your arm, especially overhead. Pain may be worse at night or after frequent use of your shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Surgery

Nonsurgical Treatments

Rest: Avoid strenuous activity and any motion that causes pain. A shoulder sling may help rest muscles and tendons.
Thermal Therapy: Putting ice on your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes at a time can reduce pain and inflammation. After two or three days, when pain and inflammation have improved, applying hot packs or heating pads for 20 minutes at a time may relax tight muscles.
Anti-Inflammatory Medicines: Cortisone Injections can reduce swelling and inflammation causing pain.
Medicines: Help reduce inflammation and pain.
Cortisone Shots: Alleviate inflammation and may relieve pain temporarily. Generally, repeat injections should be limited to three or four per joint, per year.
Hyaluronate Injections: Help restore the cushioning effect and lubrication of normal synovial (joint) fluid.
Thermal Therapy: Heating pads, hot water bottles and saunas may relax muscles to reduce pain and stiffness. Ice packs may help reduce muscle spasms and swelling.
Exercise and Rest: Prolonged inactivity can worsen arthritis symptoms, but excessive or improper exercise can overwork the arthritic joint. A balanced routine of exercise and rest is best.
Physical Therapy: Exercise, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and massage can help you regain motion.