Subacromial bursitis (shoulder)

What is it?

Subacromial bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, also known as a fat pad, 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, and coracoid (the acromial arch) and from the deep surface of the deltoid muscle.


Een subacromiale bursitis can have a number of causes. In most cases it occurs as a result of a repetitive effort (RSI) but can also occur following a trauma, such as falling on the shoulder. The latter is referred to as a traumatic bursitis. This pathology is most common in people that engage in repetitive activities such as sitting behind a computer using a mouse pad for prolonged periods of time, doing household chores, painting but may also occur acutely after having worked in the garden trimming trees/bushes all afternoon.

At Orthomedix we assess the full kinetic chain, including all the joints and functions in order to filter out the primary cause of your complaints.

What happens exactly?

When the bursa gets irritated, the body produces additional fluid within the joint which results in swelling and pain. As the bursa swells from the fluid, the pain may worsen over the course of the first four to five days. Once the inflammatory process has begun, there is a high risk of developing chronic complaints. Quite frequently this process is paired with a (subconscious) disuse of the arm which may result in a frozen shoulder if not treated adequately. Additionally, chronic inflammation may lead to calcium deposits over time, leading to irritation and inflammation of the underlying musculature. It is imperative to treat a subacromial bursitis as early as possible in order to avoid any long lasting complaints.


  • Localized pain on the lateral and dorsal side of the shoulder joint.
  • Finding comfort by keeping the arm close to the body and resting the forearm on the stomach.
  • Pain in rest an when lying on the affected side.


Using Orthopedic Manual Therapy, a full assessment will be conducted in order to determine the primary and secondary causes of the pathology. A detailed analyses will be done to assess the integrity of the full kinetic chain, including the structures that surround the shoulder girdle.


The diagnostic process will determine which structures need to be treated and which advises need to be given. Treatment for this pathology is highly effective and absolutely recommended.

Should there be any remaining symptoms even after treatment, then we will consult the general practitioner and/or specialist to give additional specific advises.

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