What movements should I avoid with shoulder bursitis?

Answered by Edward Huber

When dealing with shoulder bursitis, it is important to avoid certain movements and activities that can exacerbate the condition and worsen the inflammation. Here are three main activities to avoid:

1. Sleeping on the affected shoulder: It is crucial to avoid sleeping on the shoulder that is affected by bursitis. When we sleep on this shoulder, we put additional pressure directly on the inflamed bursa, which can lead to increased pain and discomfort. Instead, try to sleep on your opposite side or on your back with a pillow supporting your arm and shoulder.

2. Repetitive overhead and across body activities: Engaging in repetitive movements that involve reaching overhead or across the body should be avoided as much as possible. These activities can strain the shoulder joint and aggravate the bursa, leading to increased inflammation and pain. Examples of such movements include overhead lifting, throwing, reaching for objects on high shelves, and even activities like painting or gardening that require repetitive arm movements. It is important to modify or limit these activities to prevent further damage to the affected shoulder.

3. Long lever lifting: Another activity to avoid with shoulder bursitis is long lever lifting. This refers to lifting heavy objects or weights with extended arms and straight elbows, putting excessive stress on the shoulder joint. The strain caused by long lever lifting can exacerbate the inflammation in the bursa and worsen the symptoms of bursitis. If you need to lift heavy objects, it is advisable to keep your elbows bent and closer to your body, distributing the load more evenly across your shoulder and minimizing strain on the bursa.

In addition to these activities, it is also important to listen to your body and avoid any movements or exercises that cause pain or discomfort in the affected shoulder. It may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional or a physical therapist who can provide personalized advice and guidance on specific movements to avoid and alternative exercises or modifications that can help manage and improve shoulder bursitis. Remember, everyone’s condition and tolerance may vary, so it is essential to find what works best for you and your specific situation.