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What Is Subacromial Bursitis?

What Is Subacromial Bursitis?


Subacromial bursitis is a condition often experienced by athletes and occurs when the bursa over the tendon in the shoulder is compressed. This muscle is called the supraspinatus muscle, extends along the shoulder bone, and is used to lift your arm sideways. This movement is most often seen while playing sports as it controls the ability to throw objects or swing. Overuse of this area is also a common cause for subacromial bursitis.

Symptoms of Subacromial Bursitis

Pain and weakness in your arm is a common symptom of this type of injury. The weakness may linger or may only occur when lifting or rotating your arm through a particular motion.

Pain while pressing at the inside part of your upper arm. This is a sign of inflammation and injury to the tendon or bursa.

Swelling and redness in the area is often an indicator of this condition. Swelling may be intermittent or may be frequent.

Pain may begin quickly after injury or may occur as a gradual symptom.

What You Can Do

Rest as much as possible. This can help the injured area to heal as the muscle and surrounding areas need time to rest and recover.

Physical therapy or at home exercises that do not cause additional pain can help to keep the injured area flexible and increase the range of motion.

Heating pads can help to relax muscles that are tense or sore.

See a specialist if the condition does not resolve itself, or becomes more painful.

Beyond Home Remedies

A specialist may be recommended depending upon the extent of the injured area. This specialist may be a physical therapist or a sports medicine doctor. A physical therapist will work with you to create an exercise program that can be used to help the area to recover and prevent further injury. In some cases, it may be necessary to operate on the affected area but often other methods will be attempted first. Lancing of the bursa may also be performed to remove excessive fluids.



“What Is Subacromial Bursitis?.” Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. June 17, 2011

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Quote:   “In many cases, conservative management of subacromial bursitis is all that is required to provide pain relief and improve function of the shoulder. Non-surgical treatment options include rest, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injection, and strengthening exercise & physical therapy.”

Source: Shawn Hocker M.D. Atlantic Orthopedics


Quote: “I have noticed that doctors who are afflicted with subacromial bursitis find the disease more interesting and important than when they merely treat their patients for the condition.”

Source:  E.A. Codman M.D. Boston Med Surg J July 27, 1911


“Causes and effects – Bursitis, Tendinitis, and Other Soft Tissue Rheumatic Syndromes..” Home – UW Medicine – Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2010.

“What is subacromial bursitis?.” UNC School of Medicine. University of South Carolina, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.


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