Subacromial Bursitis





Subacromial bursitis is a condition caused by inflammation of the bursa that separates the superior surface of the supraspinatus tendon (one of the four tendons of the rotator cuff) from the overlying coraco-acromial ligament, acromion, coracoid ( the acromial arch) and from the deep surface of the deltoid muscle [1].

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.


Function:- The function of a healthy subacromial bursa is to facilitate the motion of the supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff in activities such as overhead work

Function of supraspinatus muscle  :-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.
  • 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


  • Pain and weakness when the arm is lifted up sideways through a 60 degree arc.
  • Localized redness or swelling are less common and suggest an infected subacromial bursa.
  • 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
  • Activities that involve repetitive over head activity, or directly in front,may cause shoulder pain. Direct upward pressure on the shoulder, such as leaning on an elbow may increase pain.
  • Night time pain, especially sleeping on the affected shoulder, is often reported


  • Electrotherapy for pain and swelling reduction
  • Strengthening of muscles
  • Sports specific training
  • 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 heat and use a heat retainer.