Subacromial Bursitis

Subacromial bursitis is a condition that affects the bursa in the shoulder. This article will walk you through how subacromial bursitis develops and how it is most commonly treated.

Overview of subacromial bursitis

The top bone of the shoulder is called the acromion and rests above the main joint of the shoulder. Just below the acromion is a fluid-filled sac, the bursa, that rests just below the acromion and cushions the space between the acromion, the upper arm bone, and the neighboring soft tissue muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The bursa reduces friction in the joint and allows the shoulder to glide smoothly during movement.

Subacromial bursitis occurs when the arm is raised overhead, and the bursa is pinched and inflamed from rubbing against the acromion. Shoulder impingement syndrome can lead to the impingement on and inflammation of the bursa, which can then make it difficult or painful to lift the arm overhead.

Inflammation in the shoulder is among the most common causes of shoulder pain, as the bones, bursa, muscles, and tendons are all closely packed in the shoulder and can easily become irritated.

Causes of subacromial bursitis

Subacromial bursitis is often caused by repetitive stress on the shoulder that leads to the irritation and inflammation of the bursa. Sports that involve frequent overhead motions and jobs like painting and construction bring a higher risk of developing subacromial bursitis in the shoulder.

Overuse of the shoulder joint can cause swelling of the soft tissue and bursa, which then makes them more likely to rub against the bone and become inflamed. 

Symptoms of subacromial bursitis

Subacromial bursitis tends to lead to the following symptoms:

  •       Pain in the shoulder (especially when lifting the arm overhead)
  •       Swelling
  •       Weakness
  •       Tenderness
  •       Difficulty moving the shoulder during normal movement
  •       Limited range of motion

These symptoms may be signs of bursitis in the shoulder and warrant medical attention to prevent further irritation of the bursa. 

Treatment for subacromial bursitis

Common initial treatments for subacromial bursitis include

  •       Rest and avoiding physical activity that further strains the shoulder
  •       Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  •       Physical therapy exercises that stretch and strengthen the shoulder
  •       Cortisone injections to relieve inflammation

If symptoms persist, surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure in the shoulder. There are several procedures that may be suggested for subacromial bursitis. In some cases, damaged areas of the bursa may be removed to avoid continued irritation. In other cases, the acromion may be partially cut to limit the pressure in the shoulder and to increase the subacromial space.

An orthopaedic specialist will develop a treatment plan based on the individual case and severity of the bursitis. 

Treating subacromial bursitis at OAR

At OAR, we understand how frustrating subacromial bursitis can be. If left untreated, inflammation in the shoulder will often continue to get worse and lead to more pain and difficulty moving. Our team of experienced orthopaedic specialists and surgeons will work with you to find a treatment that works for you.

Book an appointment with us today to start getting relief from difficult bursitis symptoms.

Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.

Contact us today!