All about shoulder capsulitis, bursitis and tendonitis


The shoulder is a complex joint made up of 3 bones: the humerus, the scapula and the clavicle. The humerus, which is the bone of the arm, is attached to the body by various ligaments and a capsule that encloses the joint. Several muscles cover this joint to increase the stability of the shoulder, and also have the function of mobilizing the arm in different directions. There are also various bursae, small sacs filled with liquid, which act as a cushion between the bones and ensure fluidity during the movements of the shoulder.

All the structures of the shoulder are likely to be injured. However, the capsule, the bursa and the tendons are the ones most frequently injured.

  • Tendinitis

    Inflammation of the shoulder tendons resulting from repeated stress, from a too rapid increase in the intensity of an effort or from a trauma. It mostly occurs in the rotator cuff, which is a group of four muscles that ensure the stability of the shoulder: the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the lesser muscle and the subscapularis. It also occurs quite often in the tendon of the biceps.

  • Bursitis

    Inflammation of the bursa. Very often caused by an impact or micro-trauma on the shoulder. When the bursa is crushed, it responds by becoming inflamed and producing pain. The subacromial bursa is the one most frequently affected.

  • Capsulitis

    Narrowing of the capsule caused by a decrease in shoulder movement. It can occur as a result of tendonitis or bursitis, after a surgery or following a trauma. It must be treated quickly in order to accelerate healing.

Pain in the shoulder, arm or scapula is the first warning sign of these different conditions. While not necessarily constant, the pain will not disappear from one day to the next. Different signs and symptoms can then be observed, depending on the type of injury, such as inflammation, persistent muscular tension or difficulty sleeping on the affected side. It is important to consult your doctor when shoulder pain occurs and persists for more than a week, because a decrease in mobility and muscular strength can quickly set in, and it will take a long time to regain.

The best recommendation when shoulder pain occurs is to apply ice and keep moving your shoulder. You may also want to reduce the amount of your exertion. A consultation with a physiotherapist will determine the affected structure and provide recommendations specific to the injury. Initial physiotherapy treatment will help relieve pain, decrease inflammation, maintain mobility and ensure that the condition does not worsen. Afterwards, progressive strengthening, ultrasound, and a variety of taping and manual therapy will help heal your injury.

Do not hesitate to consult your physiotherapist when shoulder pain seems unusual. It will be our pleasure to help you return to your work and activities without pain.

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