What is subacromial bursitis?
Bursitis is inflammation and swelling of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac which forms under the skin, usually over the joints, and acts as a cushion between the tendons and bones. The subacromial bursa is sandwiched between the bony tip of the shoulder and the ball and socket joint of the shoulder itself.
The main symptoms of subacromial bursitis are pain when tryingto elevate the arm, swelling and tenderness in the affected area.
How do we treat bursitis at the Mansfield Clinic?
The first step in treatment of subacromial bursitis is to use simple measures such as ice packs, painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication.
If your bursitis symptoms are very severe or they do not respond to simple treatment, steroid injections introduced into the inflamed bursa are another possible treatment option. You will need to avoid strenuous activity for a few days afterwards.
The subacromial bursa can become inflamed through injury or repetitive movement. Your risk of developing bursitis is increased if you regularly take part in physical activities that involve a lot of repetitive movement of the shoulder, such as throwing, or DIY.
Rarely, bursitis can develop as a result of an infection or as a complication of certain conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Bursitis causes pain, inflammation and tenderness in the shoulder. Typically, the shoulder pain radiates down the arm towards the elbow, and in subacromial bursitis it can be very severe.
The severity of bursitis depends on how inflamed the bursa is. It can cause swelling and stiffness and the shoulder may also be warm and red.
Resting the affected area, using an ice pack to reduce inflammation, and taking painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen will help relieve the symptoms and speed up your recovery. The pain usually improves within a few weeks, but the swelling may take longer to resolve. Purpose made ice packs are available form the Mansfield Clinic.
There are a number of other things you can do to reduce swelling and inflammation. Rest the joint until your symptoms improve and avoid strenuous activities that are likely to cause additional pain, such as throwing.
While sleeping, avoid lying on the side that has bursitis.
If your bursitis symptoms are very severe or they do not respond to treatment, steroid injections are another possible treatment option. Steroid injections are used to reduce inflammation.
Dr Allfree can inject steroids directly into the subacromial bursa. Possible side effects include the surrounding tissue wasting away and discolouration of the skin around the injection site.
You will not be able to have a steroid injection if you have septic bursitis, and you cannot have more than three steroid injections a year in the same area.
If your symptoms do not improve with treatment after a couple of months, you may need referral to an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Allfree will be able to arrange a referral for you. You may also be referred if you have infected bursitis that does not get better or reoccurs.