Shoulder Bursitis & Impingement



A bursa is a piece of tissue found in or around all joints, whose function is to act as a cushion between moving structures (tendons, ligaments) and their surroundings (other tendons and ligaments, bones).

In the case of the shoulder’s sub-acromial bursa, it cusions the supraspinatous tendon where it passes underneath the acromion, which is that hard, flat bone you can feel just at the end of your upper shoulders.


In shoulder bursitis, an inflamed sub-acromial bursa swells up and scrapes against the acromion as you attempt to raise your arm causing deep, sharp pain in your shoulder joint.

Shoulder impingement refers to an inflamed bursa and/or a thickened supraspinatous ligament bunching up underneath the acromion as the arm is raised, preventing further movement.

Typically, both occur simultaneously, but there are chronic cases where a previously damaged supraspinatous tendon thickens over time and gets impinged underneath the acromion as you attempt to raise your arm.

Activities that frequently involve raising your arm above your head, such as electricians, painters, baseball and tennis are risk factors for developing bursitis/ shoulder impingement.

NEXT:  Treating Common Shoulder Problems

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