[PDF] Commissioning guide: subacromial shoulder pain

Royal College of Surgeons - RCS
Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS)
Publication date:
01 August 2014


Subacromial shoulder pain is felt on the top and outer side of the shoulder. It is worsened by overhead activity and can cause night pain but patients usually have full passive range of movement of the glenohumeral joint. The pain comes from the subacromial space of the shoulder, which contains the rotator cuff tendons and the subacromial bursa, and not from the glenohumeral joint. The treatment aim for subacromial pain is to ‘improve pain and function’. Success is defined individually with patients to include the degree of improvement needed, and the level of residual symptoms that might be acceptable. Outcome depends on starting level of symptoms, patient demographics and expectations, as well as personal circumstances.