Shoulder Bursitis

Inside each of your shoulders is a tiny, fluid-filled sac known as a bursa. Bursae help reduce friction between the bones in your joints. If the bursa in your shoulder becomes inflamed, it leads to a condition known as shoulder bursitis.

Some people are at higher risk for shoulder bursitis because they use their shoulders more than others. Examples of those who are more prone to bursitis include:

  • Carpenters
  • Musicians
  • Beauticians
  • Athletes
  • Gardeners
  • Hair Dressers


Symptoms of subacromial bursitis can be similar to those of supraspinatus inflammation and consist of:

  • Pain and weakness in the arm, particularly when it is lifted sideways through a 60-degree arc.
  • Pressing in over the inside, front of the shoulder will be painful and tender.
  • If it is the tendon that is injured rather than the subacromial bursa, then there is likely to be noticeably more pain when the arm is lifted up sideways against resistance.


Overuse is usually the underlying cause, especially in sports where the arm is held overhead a lot. This bursa can become trapped causing pain and inflammation.

Injury to the supraspinatus tendon may result in inflammation. As a result, the space in the joint is reduced, therefore increasing the likelihood the subacromial bursa will become impinged.

A heavy fall onto the shoulder can also result in injuring the supraspinatus muscle, which may also lead to bursitis.


Subacromial bursitis is inflammation of the the subacromial bursa which sits between the supraspinatus tendon and the bone in the shoulder.

A bursa is a small sack of fluid. Its function is to help lubricate movement of the shoulder joint.

The Supraspinatus muscle runs along the top of the shoulder blade (scapula) and inserts via the tendon at the top of the arm or humerus (upper arm) bone.

The muscle lifts the arm up sideways and is important in throwing sports. As one of the rotator cuff muscles it holds the arm in the shoulder when you release what you are throwing.

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