Bursitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Bursitis
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a condition characterized by the irritation and the inflammation of the bursa. Bursa is typically a sac-like structure that contains lubricating fluid. It is found between the bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin. It lubricates the joints and keeps friction between bones in control*.

Signs and Symptoms of Bursitis

The most prominent symptom of bursitis is severe pain. This pain can be sudden or can rise gradually. The pain is usually repetitive in nature and it is so intense that it might even cause immobility.

Bursitis affecting the elbow tip is very common. You will experience severe pain when bending or extending your elbow. This repeated motion keeps damaging the bursa sac further and causes further infection in the bursa. Bursitis in the shoulder joint is characterized by a limited range of motion of the shoulder joints and arms. You will experience intense pain in the front or the side of your shoulder. This pain becomes more severe at night. You might have trouble in lifting things.

Bursitis in the knee causes swelling and pain after a severe injury to the knee. Bursitis in the knee is most commonly seen in obese women and people with osteoarthritis. Most often, athletes, young skaters, and women wearing heels tend to suffer from bursitis of the ankle. It is characterized by pain and numbness. Bursitis in the hips causes difficulty while sitting and walking. There will be tenderness in the groin and the pubic area.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis is caused due to repeated injuries or a sudden injury to an area. Aging also causes these lubrication sacs to degenerate and wear off. This exposes the bones and the joints to friction and stress. Overuse of a joint, improper posture during work, and vigorous exercise can also damage the bursa. Any abnormality in the bone or joint can damage the bursa sac leading to bursitis. Bursitis generally occurs in the following regions:

  • Shoulder joints
  • Knee joints
  • Elbow joints
  • Hip joints
  • Achilles tendon

The affected joint feels stiff. The area will be swollen, will hurt when touched, and will have a reddish color.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bursitis

Doctors diagnose bursitis based on the symptoms of an individual. Diagnostic tests are carried out to find the exact cause of bursitis. Some of the tests carried out for diagnosis of bursitis are:

  • An X-ray of the affected area to check for arthritis or bony spurs
  • Blood tests
  • MRI scans
  • Aspiration to Check for Infection or Gout

The doctor generally advises rest and protection of the injured area with regular icing and compression. Treatment of bursitis involves:

  • Prohibition of activities that might aggravate the condition
  • Giving proper rest to the damaged or injured area
  • Regular icing and massage of the area
  • Taking OTC anti-inflammatory drugs/medicines

Bursitis Prevention and Prognosis

Bursitis can be prevented by regular or rehabilitative exercise and a nutrient rich diet, especially phosphate and calcium. If you want to stay away from bursitis, obesity and diabetes are the conditions to be avoided.

If you are experiencing intense pain in any of your joints, you should simply quit doing intense physical work. You can use kneepads to cushion your knees and protect* it from shocks and strains. You can even choose appropriate shoes to cushion your ankle.

Expert’s Opinion

Experts believe that bursitis is a typical condition of inflammation that needs due attention. Doctors generally prescribe corticosteroids or steroids that control* the pain as well as the inflammation. Steroids are normally injected in the patient’s body directly at the site of damage. According to experts, multiple injections over a few months should be avoided because it might result in side effects that are not good for the patient’s body. These steroid injections also cover up other problems that need to be treated in a different way.

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Author

Expert Author : Kelly Everson (Consumer Health Digest)

Kelly Everson is an independent editor, an award-winning writer and an editorial consultant in the health and fitness industries. Currently, she is a contributing editor at Consumer Health Digest.