Your supraspinatus muscle is one of your rotator cuff muscles. It holds your humerus (upper arm bone) in place and stabilises the your upper arm through movement. If your shoulder joint is not moving effectively, your over train or do a repetitive movement too often (for example painting overhead) the tendon can friction over the bursa causing it to become inflamed.
What is bursitis?
A bursa is a small, flat sac filled with liquid called Synovium. They reduce friction between tendons and bones. If you did not have them as your tendons moved over a bone the constant friction could tear the tendon causing injury. Bursitis occurs through overuse of structures surrounding the bursa causing excessive friction and inflammation.
What causes Supraspinatus Bursitis?
Poor shoulder joint biomechanics
Repetitive overhead movements - excessive amounts or a sudden increase in the amount of activities like painting, building, cleaning etc
Over training - .Not allowing your body enough time to recover between sessions is a major cause of supraspinatus bursitis
Increasing your training load (frequency, duration, intensity) can all lead to an irritation of your bursa
What are the symptoms?
Gradual onset or after a significant increase in overhead activities or training.
Pain in overhead movements like washing your hair, painting, reaching for something overhead
A pain that starts at your shoulder and refers down your arm slightly.
Pain at night is common and the pain is often worse when you are lying on the affected shoulder.
How can you treat it?
Treatment of Supraspinatus Bursitis often involves a combination of:
Improvement of shoulder biomechanics,
Strengthening muscles associated with poor shoulder movement - rotator cuff, middle and lower traps, serratus anterior.
Lengthening tight muscles associated with poor shoulder movement - rotator cuff, upper traps, levator scap, pecs, lats.
Changes to training load/ frequency/ duration/ every day activities contributing to your condition
Changes to posture - How your shoulders 'sits' can change your shoulder biomechanics. If your shoulders are rounded it changes the way your humerus (upper arm bone) moves through the joint. This can cause excessive load on the bursa leading to bursitis. Improving posture involves a combination of strength, lengthening of muscles as well as improving your neck and thoracic joint mobility. Check out our upper body mobility page for more information on how to do this yourself.
Cortisone Injections - Often if your supraspinatus bursitis does not settle with non-invasive treatment your physio/ doctor may suggest a cortisone injection. Cortisone helps to decrease inflammation in the area which can be contributing to and or causing your pain.
What can your massage therapist do to help?
Unfortunately once you have bursitis it can be tricky to fix. The make up of your bursa can change with extended periods of inflammation leading to ongoing problems. The key to resolving bursitis is to take the load off the tendon - which is irritating the bursa. This means that we have to solve any underlying biomechanics dysfunctions, possible alter your technique in sport, decrease the amount of over head activities you are doing and address joint range of motion, muscle tightness and weakness, in the area.
PREVENTION - Improving joint biomechanics by loosening up tight muscles and strengthening others can help to decrease your risk of supraspinatus bursitis. Your massage therapist will look to address your lats, rotator cuff, traps, levator scap, serrates anterior muscles as well as your neck and thoracic joint mobility.
ASSESSMENT - Your remedial massage therapist will preform a thorough assessment of your neck, thoracic spine and shoulder to help identify what is going on in your body. They will talk to you about your training load, what you have been doing lately that could have contributed to your condition as well as other lifestyle factors that can increase the likelihood of your getting bursitis. If they suspect supraspinatus bursitis they may refer you on to a physio for further diagnosis and begin to address any of the muscular tightness or weakness contributing to your condition. Your massage therapist and physio will then create a plan of attack to get you on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.
MASSAGE - Deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy and dry needling can all be used to help relieve symptoms of bursitis and prevent it from occurring in the first place. It can also help to improve your posture and improve your thoracic and neck mobility which can be contributing to the condition.
HOME CARE - Your JKI remedial massage therapist is equipped with a tool bag full of stretches, self triggers, strengthening exercises and foam rolling exercises to help you prevent and manage bursitis.
REFERRAL - In our experience bursitis will improve significantly faster with a team approach to treatment. depending on the severity your massage therapist may refer you to an exercise physiologist to help you with your shoulder strength and posture or a physio to help with the symptoms of bursitis. Our goal is to get your on the road to recovery as quickly as possible so if we believe a team approach will get you there faster, that is what we will recommend.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above please feel free to contact us to see if massage could help your condition. Alternatively if you have a bursitis diagnosis book in and let us know who has given you your diagnosis so we can help you get on the road to recovery sooner.