Subacromial Shoulder Pain

Subacromial shoulder pain is a general term to describe shoulder pain in the subacromial space in the shoulder. This is the area above the shoulder’s glenohumeral or ball and socket joint and below the acromion, which is the flat bone at the top of the shoulder.

Vital soft tissues such as the bicep tendon, one of the rotator cuff tendons and the subacromial bursa are all located in the subacromial space and can become pinched, causing pain.

For more information on Subacromial Shoulder Pain and your possible treatment options, call +44 (0) 203 195 2442 to arrange a consultation with the London Shoulder Specialists.

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What are the causes of subacromial shoulder pain?

A variety of conditions can cause subacromial shoulder pain, but it is usually the result of chronic inflammation of the rotator cuff, also known as rotator cuff tendinopathy or shoulder impingement. Rotator cuff tears, calcific tendonitis, and shoulder joint arthritis can all present as subacromial pain.

What are the symptoms of subacromial pain?

Subacromial shoulder pain presents as pain in the shoulder and upper arm that can spread further down the arm to the elbow and into the neck. Pain is not usually felt when at rest but typically feels worse when the arm extends from the body. Sometimes the pain is felt at night if the patient lies on the affected shoulder.

Frequently Asked Questions on Subacromial Shoulder Pain

The first stage of intervention is always non-operative. Anti-inflammatories and over-the-counter painkillers can relieve pain and inflammation. An exercise programme to build up strength will also be advised.

UK guidelines recommend ultrasound guided injection to manage subacromial shoulder pain by reducing pain and improving function, performed alongside a comprehensive physiotherapy programme. These injections should work within three to five days and should relieve pain for several weeks or months or permanently when combined with physiotherapy. The number of injections that can be done is limited.

Surgery may be advised if the shoulder pain fails to improve with non-surgical management. The first step is to identify the specific cause of the pain. If a rotator cuff tear is present, then rotator cuff repair may be required.

If you have further questions about possible treatment options for subacromial shoulder pain, please arrange a consultation with the London Shoulder Specialists.