Shoulder bursitis is characterized by inflammation between the top of the arm bone and the tip of the shoulder. Between these bones are the shoulder rotator tendons and a fluid filled sac (the bursa) that protects the tendons. Inadequate space in this joint can make it difficult for the tendons to slide effortlessly within it. The result can be inflammation of both the tendons and the bursa. This inflammation causes the bursa and the tendons to swell, which further reduces the space and aggravates the inflammation, creating a vicious circle. Since both the tendons and bursa tend to simultaneously become inflamed, shoulder bursitis is frequently accompanied by tendonitis. As the space becomes progressively smaller, shoulder movement may be restricted. This condition is known as shoulder impingement.
Sporting activity that requires a lot of overhead activity can increase the risk of shoulder bursitis and impingement. These sports include those that require lots of throwing movements (baseball pitching) and those that require smashing or serving movements (tennis, for example).
People who work in occupations that require a lot of overhead lifting are also at increased risk of these conditions.
The main symptom of both shoulder bursitis and tendonitis is therefore pain when trying to move the shoulder. Shoulder impingement is another symptom and is usually signified by reduced shoulder range of motion.
A shoulder support can support pain relief and healing by restricting the movement of tendons and bursa and giving them a chance to recover.