What is shoulder tendinitis/bursitis?

Shoulder bursitis and tendinitis are common causes of shoulder pain and stiffness. They indicate swelling (inflammation) of a particular area within the shoulder joint.

The shoulder joint is kept stable by a group of muscles called the rotator cuff as well as the bicipital tendon (the tendon that keeps the upper arm bone within the shoulder socket). When the rotator cuff tendon or the bicipital tendon becomes inflamed and irritated it is called rotator cuff tendinitis or bicipital tendinitis.

An area called the subacromial bursa lies in the space between the shoulder tendons. The bursa is what protects these tendons. Subacromial bursitis occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed.

Both conditions (shoulder bursitis and tendinitis) can cause pain and stiffness around the shoulder and may exist together.

How is shoulder tendinitis caused?

Tendinitis occurs as a result of sports injuries, by repetitive minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden, more serious injury. For instance, professional baseball players, swimmers, tennis players, and golfers are susceptible to tendinitis in their shoulders, arms, and elbows. Improper technique in any sport is one of the primary causes of overload on tissues including tendons, which can contribute to tendinitis.

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to develop this condition, however. People with jobs that require overhead work (such as assembly work or an overhead pressing machine), and heavy lifting are at risk of tendinitis. A direct blow to the shoulder area or falling on an outstretched arm can also cause shoulder tendinitis.

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