Discouraged after shoulder surgery and bursitis surgery

I had shoulder tendonitis and bursitis surgery two weeks ago and I am still have pain. I have been told this could be the nerve endings;

Is this true? I have a follow up visit tomorrow and one of the surgeons informed me that I may need a cortizone injection, he said he always gives one after surgery.

I am starting to think something is more wrong with the pain. Please give me some answers.



Joshua Answers:

Hi there. I'm glad you're looking for answers to this common questions.

Surgery, unfortunately, is not a cure all. Regardless of what you had going on in there, surgery cut through skin and connective tissue and tendon, and the body is responding appropriately to such an invasion.

Unfortunately, this hurts.

Shoulder surgery recovery, whether it includes a bursa or not, must include activities that counter the injurious effects of the surgery as well as the original Tendonitis problem.

This is likely why your surgeon routinely gives cortizone with the surgery...to cut down on the body's post-surgery inflammation response (inflammation causes pain).

As far as your question around pain coming from the nerve endings. Technically, this is true. Nerve endings are what allow you to feel pain.

The doctor's point in making this statement? I don't know. Probably saying it's your nerves hurting from the surgery and it will take time for them to become unirritated.

Remember, scalpels and such cut through tissue, including nerve fibers. It's going to hurt.

Should you get a Corticosteroid Injections?

That's up to you. At best it will drop your pain levels down for a while.

Pain sucks. I'm generally against anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids, but....pain sucks. No shame in getting one. Just keep in mind that it is nothing but a pain killer.

And, there are possible side effects, ranging from it not helping at all, to actually making you hurt worse, and or injure yourself more.

Should it still be hurting at this point after the surgery? That's the better question.

Two weeks? I'm not surprised you have pain still. Especially from surgery on the bursa. When bursae get irritated and injured, they can hurt, and hurt bad, for a long time.

I would expect at least a month of pain from a surgery like this, starting out bad and slowly getting better.

Getting back to surgery is not a cure all. What I want to know, is, did the surgery get rid of the -cause- of your shoulder tendonitis and bursitis?

For instance, if your bursitis is from the muscles in the armpit area being too tight and pulling and compressing your shoulder down, which grinds the bursa? Kind of like a Shoulder Impingement?

My point is, you had tight muscles pulling on an unhappy shoulder tendon, and likely compressing the structure such that the bursa was getting compressed/irritated.

Surgery and pain causes the muscles to tighten up even more to protect you. This pulls on the newly injured tendon and potential compresses that poor, newly injured bursa even more.

My main suggestion for your doctor's visit tomorrow is, regardless of whether you get a shot or not, is to have your doctor get you (under a variety of names) one of those shoulder icing machines.

They probably won't, but it's worth a shot (make sure of the cost before you leave with one!).

You can get one for personal use, prices range up to a couple hundred bucks.

I HIGHLY suggest that you find a good way to ice your shoulder. This will be your best option to reduce pain and speed healing times.

Here is a couple random examples of home units I just found searching the web.
Recovery Wrap

Or you could rig something up at home using those as an example.

Again, I HIGHLY suggest you Ice like a madman for at least a week. The more area you can cover, the better.

Ideally it's a few minutes on, several minutes off. A few on, several off. But however you do it, DO IT!. That's the best short and long term pain relief strategy I have.

Then once the pain is down, we start looking to see if the pain is going to go away totally, or not.

And then we go from there. First things first, knock the surgery pain down.

Does that answer your question?

More questions, more answers.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for Discouraged after shoulder surgery and bursitis surgery

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Oct 19, 2010
Unbearable shoulder pain from shoulder bursitis
by: Anonymous

I am 19 and ran college track for a semester before the bursitis behind my left shoulder blade became unbarable.

I think I would like to push for surgery because I have heard that bursitis is uncurable and that it just goes through phases of good and bad. I am a fairly active person and would like to not have to be careful of what I do for the rest of my life.

I have done cortisone and physical therapy neither of which very successful. Do you think surgery is a positive option for me?


Joshua Comments:

Hi WantinSurgery.

You're asking the wrong guy about surgery. I've pretty solidly against it for most things.

Who told you shoulder bursitis was uncurable? Most surgeons would probably agree.

My question is, WHY do you have shoulder bursitis? It doesn't just show up out of the blue.

If you get surgery for it, how will that help? What exactly will they do? How will it 'fix' the factors that CAUSED the bursitis?

Who knows. Maybe you'll feel great if they cut the bursa out, or whatever they'll do in there. Personally I'll avoid going under elective surgery/the knife unless it's something surgery can FOR SURE fix.

If I get hit by a bus? I'm PRO surgery.

Tendonitis? NO WAY.

Bursitis means that -something- isn't working right, and the bursa is getting hammered on a constant basis, and is now so irritated that it takes hardly anything to make it HURT.

It's a special kind of pain....

Not sure if that answered your question...

More questions, more answers.

Apr 09, 2012
You sir need a Nobel Peace Prize:)
by: Veteran Tank Gunner

Two years and this comment is still running. I also am about to go through surgery to repair damage in my Acromioclavicular joint, tear of the superior labrum, tendinosis of the long head biceps tendon and tendinosis of the supraspinatus and subscapularis tendons. What would be the best way to deal with pain without medicines to hold me off untill surgery?


Joshua Comments:

Hey TG.

I'm always up for a Nobel up on my shelf. Bring it on!

I have two answers for you.

1. The best way to lower pain levels is with the effective use of ice/cold. For your specific set of pain locations, I suggest you check out the Cold Therapy System.

Why? Because you can easily and systemically move the cold around to different locations. 2 minutes here, 2 minutes there, repeat, repeat.

You could use ice packs and such for free, too, of course, but if you get surgery you're VERY MUCH going to want the easy ability to ice the affected structures. A lot.

2. This doesn't exactly answer your question because it's a modality that can help you avoid surgery. Check out The ARPwave System. It's super bad ass and will absolutely drop pain levels and save you from surgery, assuming you use it/use it enough/use it correctly. Alternately, it will make a post surgery recovery a 2-3 month thing instead of an 8-12 month thing.

3. Make sure to know about Magnesium for Tendonitis

Why do you think you have these tears/injuries?

How long have you had them?

What caused them?

When is your surgery scheduled for?

Dec 26, 2012
Subdeltoid Bursitis-ongoing issue
by: ActionBarbie


I have been doing Crossfit for about 2years now, and found myself in my first debilitating injury about 7-8months ago. At the time I was a bar manager at a hotel, where I had to carry all the marble top tables through a crowd of people across the other side of the hotel. As the crowd was often hard to move thru, I would carry the tables overhead.

I think this repetitive movement with an awkward object- circular tables, eventually did some damage to my shoulder. I ended up leaving the job, and taking time off to rest (no crossfit!) as I thought I must have just overdone it and strained my shoulder and it needed some downtime.

I finally felt fine after about 3months, so I went back to Crossfit, watching my form & using very light weights, basically easing back into it. But after about a week, the pain in my shoulder was back with a vengeance (whilst doing a workout involving pull-ups and overhead presses). I ended up in absolute agony even after dropping the weight plates off the bar and pressing an empty bar.

That was my wake up call, that something was really wrong. So the next day I went to a really good Physio, and she tried physiotherapy as well as dry-needling.

She mentioned that my shoulder wasn't sitting in the socket properly- when she gently pulled it would pull out leaving a gap in my socket.

Shoulder also clicks a lot with movement. I did physio for the next 6months, along with remedial massage & ibuprofen and dicolfenac, and as much rest as possible (and no exercise except for an occasional run/situps).

With no improvement, and pain on the increase, I got cortisone under ultrasound. This has not helped either, and am still in just as much pain if not worse..?

I am at a loss as to what to do now, as I am in constant immense pain on a daily basis, with everything from driving, to photographing increasing the pain even more.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I am looking at MRI/MRA & surgery in the new year if I can't get any improvements, and I would really like to avoid that if possible.

Thank you,



Joshua Comments:

Hi Megan (ActionBarbie, that's awesome).

Welcome to the world of Tendonitis.

See: What Is Tendonitis to make sure that you understand what it is and how it works.


Jan 11, 2013
Joshua Replies to ActionBarbie re: Subdeltoid Bursitis-ongoing issue
by: The Tendonitis Expert


You used your body, your body does what it does - gets tighter, builds up inflammation, burns through nutrition, gets stuck tight, hurt, repeat.
As you've experienced, Corticosteroid Injections don't heal anything. Rest certainly doesn't. And those are common doctor and physical therapy recommendations.

Bursitis is extra painful. The padding gets super sensitive, and it makes everything worse, which makes the bursitis worse, etc. So understanding -why- you hurt becomes important. Various predictable factors are at play.

Bursitis or Tendonitis or both (it's both, as it's all due to the overall dynamic) there's just one thing to do at this point: go after the CAUSE of the whole thing.

Reduce the chronic inflammation, reverse the chronic muscle and connective tissue tightness, and deal with any nutritional insufficiency that -is- involved.

Along those lines, I suggest my Reversing Shoulder Tendonitis ebook. You'll probably be interested in a complete plan of attack, as opposed to a couple tips that I could provide here (and that you'll find if you read through the links you'll find on the pages I linked to).

More questions, more answers.

Mar 05, 2013
Should I go for the Surgery?
by: Anonymous

I have this pain Since 2008 and Today 6 March 2013, the surgeon has suggested me that I should go for the surgery and remove the swollen bursa from my right shoulder.

The degree of pain changes according to my daily activies and different weather conditions.

As far as pain is concern i can bear the pain for the rest of my life but its just something is not right in my shoulder that I feel all the time.

Should I go for the Surgery????



Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

Whether you get surgery or not is up to you. And surgery is a pretty big deal, especially when some necessary body part is to be removed, so make sure you know what you're getting into.

But to help you answer that question for yourself, here are some questions to ask yourself and your doctor.

1. WHY is the bursa inflamed and hurting?

2. Will surgery change any of the factors causing the inflamed painful bursa?

3. Will your shoulder be any happier without a bursa? They're there for a reason.

4. Is there a money back guarantee if the surgery doesn't 'work'?

5. Will there be any future problems for you and your shoulder if you don't have a bursa?

6. Is the doctor sure that the bursa is the actual problem? Again, WHY is the bursa hurting, since it didn't just start hurting magically for no reason.

7. If the doctor doesn't know WHY it's hurting, why it's swollen, why does he think that surgery will help the problem?

Along those lines see: Quiz Your Doc

Let me know what happens.

Mar 10, 2015
I have shoulder pain. Where is the real problem?
by: Amy

Hi Joshua,

Thank you for your website! I was diagnosed with tendonitis 5 months ago.

I was given two diagnoses by four different professionals.

Two said it was shoulder and two said it was bicep.

It started out on my right side. I now have it on both sides, but the right is worse. After doing your icing technique I think it is my shoulders.

I was given two cortisone shots in the right side. One in my tendon and one in the joint. The tendon one did nothing the joint one helped a little.

I did PT for about a month and it helped a little.

I have been getting message therapy which has helped! She knows what she is doing but cannot tell me where the main injury/issue is located. Your icing technique has taken away the continuous dull aching! (THANK YOU!)

Now my main points of pain are in the armpit area (pec minor and teres major) and under my shoulder blades. I do feel a little pain/discomfort every once and a while just below my shoulder in my arm and at the very tip of my shoulder.

The pain/discomfort changes throughout the day and I have even had very little pain the last few days.

Can you tell me where the main issue is and what to do about it? I feel like I'm on the road to recovery but still have aches and pains.

I don't know what the next step is. I have 3 stretches I've been doing the past month, but I don't think it's enough. Would your ebook "Reversing Shoulder Tendonitis" address my issues?

Also, the message therapist lifted my arm up and when she was just about to my ear it hurt. She suggested that I may have inflammation in the bursa, but I have no pain in every day movement. I have full range of motion. Could I still have inflammation? If so what do I do about it?

Thank you for your time and any help you can give!



Joshua Comments:

Hi Amy.

1. Did they mean 'bicep' in the sense that it attaches at the shoulder?

Shoulder Tendonitis can include either or both 'shoulder' and 'bicep'.

2. I can't for sure tell you where the main point is, but chances are, it's more than one point, more than one factor.

A. Nutritional lack (for a variety of reasons

B. Inflammation process (you've noticed that icing is helping the side effects of that)

C. Too tight muscle and connective tissue (the massage therapist is helping, but can't find the main source). Lack of nutrition plays a part in limited benefit from good massage, and again, generally there isn't one specific point of cause (even/expecially if/when there's a rip and tear injury).

3. Shoulder Bursitis is essentially caused by chronic tightness in the armpit area muscles/structures (and on top of the shoulder too). Constant compression and irritation.

It's all downhill from there, a.k.a the downward spiral of the Pain Causing Dynamic.

Shoulder Impingement basically means that structures are being compressed. By tight structures.

The logic there gets a bit circular, but essentially, muscles get tight, pull on their connections, and things get 'squeezed'.

For some reason doctors think that surgery is a 'fix'.

4. "Would your ebook "Reversing Shoulder Tendonitis" address my issues?"

Yes it would show you how to effectively address the issue(s).

See Semi-Related: Bicep Or Rotator Cuff Tendonitis What Should I Do To Get Back To Boxing?

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