Subacromial bursitis has similar symptoms to Supraspinatus tendinitis with shoulder pain over a 60 degree arc when the arm is lifted sideways.
Symptoms of Subacromial Bursitis
- Pain and weakness when the arm is lifted up sideways through a 60 degree arc.
- Pain when you press in at the inside front of the upper arm.
- If it is the tendon that is injured rather than the bursa there is likely to be more pain when the arm is lifted up sideways against resistance.
What is a Subacromial Bursa?
The Supraspinatus muscle runs along the top of the shoulder blade and inserts via the tendon at the top of the arm (humerus bone). This muscle is used to lift the arm up sideways and is also important in throwing sports as it is the muscle that holds the arm in the shoulder when you release what you are throwing. There are massive forces involved in slowing the arm down after you have thrown something but few people bother to train these muscles. A heavy fall onto the shoulder can also result in injuring this muscle.
Over the tendon is a bursa (small sack of fluid used to help lubricate the moving tendon). This bursa can become trapped in the shoulder causing pain and inflammation. The athlete is more prone to this injury if they overuse the shoulder particularly if the arm is at or above shoulder level. Or if the athlete has had a rupture of the supraspinatus tendon.
Treatment of Subacromial Bursitis
What can the athlete do?
- Rest until there is no pain.
- They must however continue pain free mobility exercises to keep the full range of movement in the shoulder.
- Apply cold therapy to heat ease inflammation.
- See a sports injury specialist or doctor who can advise on rehabilitation.
What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?
- Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
- Prescribe a full rehabilitation programme.
- Operate with persistent problems.
- If it is persistent the doctor can aspirate (stick a needle into the bursa and suck out the extra fluid).