A common finding in the ultrasound of a sore shoulder or hip is ‘Bursal thickening’ or bursitis. So, what does this mean? is it the cause of your pain? and can it be fixed?
What is it?
Bursas are small fluid filled sacs which reside throughout joints of the body. Their role is to create a soft, padded, sliding surface between the muscle and bone. Bursitis is when one of these sacks becomes inflamed and swollen.
Is it the cause of my pain?
Bursal thickening is not a definite cause of pain. Thick bursas are commonly found in non-painful shoulders. A recent study found that 78% of non -painful shoulders had bursal thickening. This is because the thickening of a bursa can be an adaptive mechanism to deal with extra demands. (like getting calluses on your hands)
Do I need to get an ultrasound to diagnose it?
No, If a bursa is the cause of your pain it will usually be obvious from a physical examination. This could include painful movements, range of motion and timing/pattern of pain.
Do I need an injection to heal it?
The short answer is no. Although a corticosteroid injection can bring short term relief in some cases. Physiotherapy focusing on a combination of exercise and movement modification can have great long-term results in most cases.
What else can be done?
If a bursa is becoming inflamed from over-use it may be a matter of reducing certain task, or performing those tasks slightly differently to give the tissue a break. A gradual exercise program will ensure the area remains strong and helps to offload the bursa.