Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I've been having shoulder bursitis off and on for years. My doctor suggested injecting it but I'm a little nervous. Is there any reason not to do this?


The shoulder is a common site for injection. A combination of lidocaine (a numbing agent) and a corticosteroid drug (anti-inflammatory) are used. Your doctor will determine the exact location to place the injection.

There are three areas in the shoulder that can be injected. The first is the glenohumeral (GH) joint. The second is the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The third is the subacromial space.

The area injected depends on the location of your pain. Bursitis is one of several possible causes of shoulder pain that can be helped with an injection. With careful technique, the injection can pinpoint the exact problem spot. Painful symptoms are reduced or eliminated. Motion and function can be restored.

There are a few possible side effects from this type of treatment. You may not get the pain relief you want if the injection doesn't go exactly where it's needed.

Sometimes the steroid drug can cause changes in the skin or tissue in the area of the injection. This is more likely in patients who have had a series of injections but it can happen after only one injection.

In general, injection of a numbing agent and steroid for shoulder bursitis is a safe and effective way to treat a chronic problem. Joseph R. Lutt, MD, et al. Aspiration and Injection of the Shoulder Joints and Subacromial Space. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. September 2007. Vol. 24. No. 9. Pp. 391-392.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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