What Is Subacromial Bursitis?

The subacromial bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac located beneath the bony upper region of your shoulder. When functioning normally, the subacromial bursa reduces friction between the solid acromion bone and the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle. Subacromial bursitis occurs when the subacromial bursa becomes inflamed, which causes pain and limited movement.


Certain factors increase your risk of developing subacromial bursitis. These factors include:

  • Age: Men and women over age 40 are more likely to contract this condition than young adults, because tendons become less elastic with age and are more vulnerable to tearing.
  • Activities: if your job or daily routine involves activities that strain the subacromial bursa, bursitis may occur. Gardening, scrubbing, painting, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing and shoveling may all lead to this condition.

Generally, the following circumstances may cause subacromial bursitis:

  • Upper extremity muscle weakness
  • Overuse of the adjacent shoulder
  • Calcium deposition
  • Adjacent inflammation of the supraspinatus tendon
  • Excessive movement of the joint
  • Degeneration of the joint
  • Aged or injured muscle tendons
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Acute trauma or repetitive injury
  • Frequent overhead lifting
  • Forceful pulling


Like many shoulder injuries, subacromial bursitis is characterized largely by localized, often intense pain. Symptoms of subacromial bursitis include:

  • Sudden and severe or gradually-building shoulder pain
  • Loss of motion in the shoulder
  • Pain through the arm that does not extend past the elbow
  • Weakness in the affected area

The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach

Subacromial bursitis can be a debilitating condition when left untreated. At OrthoCARE Institute, a division of the vertically-integrated Lumin Health system, our team of highly-experienced orthopedic surgeons is committed to providing comprehensive, patient-centric care that reduces pain and restores your ability to participate in the activities you love.

Typically, we recommend a combination of conservative treatments to combat subcaromial bursitis. Advanced pain management techniques, anti-inflammatory medication and focused physical therapy can all be integrated into an effective treatment plan. If your subacromial bursitis is severe or if conservative treatments are not successful, the team at OrthoCARE Institute may suggest minimally invasive surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery differs substantially from traditional open surgery. Using small incisions, minimally invasive techniques yield many benefits, such as:

  • Shorter hospital stays and recovery times
  • Minimal risk of scarring
  • Lessened chances of trauma or damage to surrounding tissues
  • Reduced post-procedure pain and discomfort
  • Faster healing process

Our team is happy to answer any questions you may have about subacromial bursitis, OrthoCARE Institute or minimally invasive surgery. Schedule a consultation today by calling us directly at 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you find relief!

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