Doctors can treat bursitis in the shoulder by injecting the damaged area with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, claims WebMD. If the bursitis is severe, a doctor aspirates the bursa using a needle. Doctors also recommend that patients apply ice packs to the area and take over-the-counter NSAIDs for pain.
Heat should not be applied in the case of bursitis, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, because it makes the condition worse. If the bursitis recurs and is very severe, the bursae can be treated surgically, says WebMD. A common type of surgery for chronic bursitis is called incision and drainage, or I and D, claims Johns Hopkins Medicine. Surgery is only resorted to when the bursae are infected. The surgeon makes an incision after the area is numbed with anesthesic, then opens up and drains the bursa. If the bursa is badly inflamed, the surgeon removes it.
Not all infected bursae require surgery, claims Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sometimes, doctors prescribe a course of antibiotics as well as aspirate the bursa.
Doctors can also recommend physical therapy for their patients, claims WebMD. This therapy includes gentle stretching and strengthening exercises after a period of rest, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. If the shoulder is allowed to rest for too long, it might lead to a condition called "frozen shoulder."