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Also indexed as: Housemaid’s Knee


Shoulder joint soreness and swelling may be caused by bursitis, an arthritis-like condition. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may help to stop the pain and improve your range of motion:

What you need to know

  • Uncover the cause
  • Work with a knowledgeable health professional to find out what is causing your bursitis and to determine effective treatments

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full bursitis article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins, herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.

About bursitis

Bursitis is an inflammation of one or more bursa (fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction around joints).

The most common bursa to become inflamed is in the shoulder. The cause of bursitis is mostly unknown, but trauma or arthritis may be involved.

Product ratings for bursitis

Science Ratings Nutritional Supplements Herbs

Vitamin B12





See also:  Homeopathic Remedies for Bursitis
3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

What are the symptoms?

Acute bursitis causes pain, tenderness over the inflamed bursa, and limited range of motion. Chronic bursitis attacks may follow acute bursitis, unusual exercise, or strain. Attacks may last a few days to several weeks and are characterized by pain, swelling, and tenderness.

Medical options

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin (Genuine Bayer, Ecotrin, Bufferin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, Nuprin), and naproxen (Aleve), may be adequate to treat the pain associated with bursitis.

Prescription strength NSAIDs, such as celecoxib (Celebrex), valdecoxib (Bextra), ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn), etodolac (Lodine), meloxicam (Mobic), and indomethacin (Indocin), are prescribed when over-the-counter products are ineffective. Narcotic pain relievers, including codeine (Tylenol with Codeine) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Norco), are also used. Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone (Deltasone) and methylprednisolone (Medrol) are often prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. Corticosteroid injections such as methylprednisolone (Depo-Medrol), hydrocortisone (Solu-Cortef), and dexamethasone (Decadron-LA) may be necessary to reduce inflammation in chronic, severe cases. For noninfected, acute bursitis, injections of the local anesthetic lidocaine (Xylocaine) may be used if other remedies don’t adequately relieve pain.

Vitamins that may be helpful

In a preliminary study, intramuscular injections of vitamin B121 2 relieved the symptoms of acute subdeltoid (shoulder) bursitis and also decreased the amount of calcification in some cases. This mechanism is not understood. Oral B vitamins are unlikely to have the same effect, since the body’s absorption of vitamin B12 is quite limited. A doctor should be consulted regarding B12 or B12/niacin injections.

Are there any side effects or interactions?
Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful

While there have been few studies on herbal therapy for bursitis, most practitioners would consider using anti-inflammatory herbs that have proven useful in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These would include boswellia, turmeric, willow, and topical cayenne ointment.

Are there any side effects or interactions?
Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.


1. Klemes IS. Vitamin B12 in acute subdeltoid bursitis. Indust Med Surg 1957;26:290–2.

2. Kellman M. Bursitis: a new chemotherapeutic approach. J Am Osteopathic Assoc 1962;61:896–903.

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