Subdeltoid Bursitis

The term ‘Bursae’ refer to the small fluid-filled sacs present in different joints of the bones throughout the body. Subdeltoid bursitis refers to a painful condition of the shoulders which can occur due to inflammation in one such bursa. Find out all about this condition, including its varied symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Definition

Subdeltoid bursa is located in the joints of the shoulders, between the shoulder joint capsule and the deeper surfaces of the deltoid muscle. Subdeltoid bursitis develops due to an inflammation of this particular bursa. It is a kind of shoulder bursitis, which can be acute or chronic in presentation. In acute cases, entire bursa is inflamed, which is quite rare. Shoulder bursitis can be accompanied with tendonitis, which is the irritation of the tendons. It is also known as Subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis.

Subacromial Subdeltoid Bursitis

The subacromial bursa is located below the coracoacromial ligament and acromion, dividing the ligament from rotator cuff and supraspinatus muscle. Subdeltoid bursa is joined to this bursa and when it gets inflamed, bursitis occurs as a natural consequence.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Incidence

The exact prevalence of this disorder is not known. However, the working population is generally found to be more prone to such shoulder complaints. The subcromial bursa is more commonly affected than the subdeltoid bursa, which is a part of it.

Subdeltoid Bursitis ICD 9 Code

The ICD9 code of this syndrome is 726.10.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Causes

Some of the reasons for the development of this syndrome are:

Picture of Subdeltoid Bursitis

Picture 1 - Subdeltoid Bursitis

  • Shoulder injury or injury to rotator cuff caused by overuse or accident
  • Chronic infection
  • Gout and arthritis which leads to deposition of calcium
  • Septic bursitis
  • Splits in the rotator cuff

Subdeltoid Bursitis Symptoms

Some of the symptoms associated with this condition are:

  • Pain below the deltoid muscle, which deteriorates with even slightest movement in the shoulders.
  • Possible swelling of the shoulders, due to the presence of fluid in the sac or bursa.
  • Localized heat.
  • Apparent spreading of pain towards Proximal humerus
  • Affected movements
  • Difficulty in sleeping over the affected shoulder
  • Worsening of pain at night
  • Worsening of pain in the shoulders due to resisted abduction.
  • Tenderness in Subaltoid bursa
  • Feverish feeling, in case of an infection
  • Painful sensation when arm is raised and receding of aches when it is suspended

Subdeltoid Bursitis Diagnosis

This condition is detected using certain tests, which include MRI scan or ultrasound. X-Ray can be done on the shoulders which can reveal the internal condition. Apart from these investigation modes, physical examination of the shoulders also helps in detecting subdeltoid bursitis. Impingement test performed by the doctor helps to determine whether it is bursitis or tendinitis. Medical history of the patient also plays an important role in diagnosis of this condition. The symptoms of this disorder can be distinguished from other similar conditions by using these diagnostic modes.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Treatment

Treatment guidelines of subdeltoid bursitis may vary, depending on the pathology of the condition. Acute subdeltoid bursitis, in which calcification may occur can be treated using medication, rest and heat. For healing Subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis, several treatment options have been listed:

  • Ica packs can be termed as an amazing therapy for bursitis. Gently massaging the affected region with it can heal the pain induced by inflammation. This can be done 2 to 4 times in a day for around 10 to 15 minutes.
  • To reduce friction in the shoulders due to movement, cast can be applied, which supports the joint.
  • You can also use a heat pack, if that works well on the bursitis. If it suits you, use hot showers, ointments and heat lamps to reduce the pain.
  • To decrease the swelling and fluid buildup in the shoulders, you may try raising the shoulder beyond the level of the heart.
  • Non-steroidal drugs, which reduce inflammation, are generally prescribed by physicians.
  • Pain killers are prescribed if patients are unable to bear severe pain.
  • The inflamed bursa can be treated with corticosteroid drug injection, apart from local anesthetics.
  • Oral antibiotics are also administered, along with incision for draining the fluid.

Care should be taken to provide adequate rest to the inflamed bursa or shoulders. If at all, it cannot be rested, support it with a sling till the time the pain lessens. Do not keep it static for long and start light movements by exercising the shoulders. This will also prevent frozen shoulders. Mineral and vitamin supplements along with proper diet are essential for steady healing.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Complications

Know about some the possible complications of this disease:

Image of Subdeltoid Bursitis

Picture 2 - Subdeltoid Bursitis Image

  • Infection is one of the primary complications of this disorder, which may arise due to treatment by injection. However, this can be controlled by following aseptic techniques.
  • Instances of ecchymosis can be prevented after injection, if the injection site is carefully pressurized right away. There is a chance that patients might experience more pain after the injection is administered.
  • There is a possibility that the normal movement of the shoulder is restrained. Probability of frozen shoulders exists too.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Prevention

To prevent the recurrence of this form of bursitis, shoulder muscle stretches, joint mobilization, light exercise and massages can be performed. To enhance motion in your shoulders, consult your physiotherapist who will guide you properly. Adopting a movement regime is important to ease the tightness in the joint capsule which might have developed in the process. Until your shoulders heal completely, try to protect it from external injuries. Other ways to prevent the occurrence of such conditions is by wearing protective gear during sports (to avoid injury to the shoulders). By doing warm up exercises, chances of injury can be reduced to a certain extent.

Subdeltoid Bursitis Prognosis

By availing varied treatments like medication, rehabilitation therapies, yoga and acupuncture, painful sensations associated to the disorder can be alleviated. It is best to consult a physician with the onset of symptoms, as this assures faster recovery. In older patients, there might be some degeneration due to the prevalence of this condition as they recuperate slower. Mild subacromial subdeltoid bursitis is not a complicated syndrome and usually it seems to subside in a couple of weeks. But the chronic form might have the tendency to occur again.


By    Last updated September 26th, 2012

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