Bursitis

Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs — called bursae — that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed. The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow and hip. But you can also have bursitis by your knee, heel and the base of your big toe. Bursitis often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion.

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If you have bursitis, the affected joint might:

  • Feel achy or stiff
  • Hurt more when you move it or press on it
  • Look swollen and red

The most common causes of bursitis are repetitive motions or positions that put pressure on the bursae around a joint. Examples include:

  • Throwing a baseball or lifting something over your head repeatedly
  • Leaning on your elbows for long periods
  • Extensive kneeling for tasks such as laying carpet or scrubbing floors

Other causes include injury or trauma to the affected area, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and infection.

Anyone can develop bursitis, but certain factors can increase your risk:

  • Age. Bursitis becomes more common with aging.
  • Occupations or hobbies. If your work or hobby requires repetitive motion or pressure on particular bursae, your risk of developing bursitis increases. Examples include carpet laying, tile setting, gardening, painting and playing a musical instrument.
  • Other medical conditions. Certain systemic diseases and conditions — such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes — increase your risk of developing bursitis. Being overweight can increase your risk of developing hip and knee bursitis.

Bursitis generally gets better on its own. Conservative measures, such as rest, ice and taking a pain reliever, can relieve discomfort. If conservative measures don’t work, you might require:

  • Medication. If the inflammation in your bursa is caused by an infection, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Therapy. Physical therapy or exercises can strengthen the muscles in the affected area to ease pain and prevent recurrence.
  • Injections. A corticosteroid drug injected into the bursa can relieve pain and inflammation in your shoulder or hip. This treatment generally works quickly and, in many cases, one injection is all you need.
  • Assistive device. Temporary use of a walking cane or other device will help relieve pressure on the affected area.
  • Surgery. Sometimes an inflamed bursa must be surgically drained, but only rarely is surgical removal of the affected bursa necessary.

Are you ready to stop living life in pain?