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What is Bursitis?

Bursitis refers to a medical condition which causes inflammation in the bursae (a small fluid-filled sac). Bursae cushions the bones, tendons and muscles near the joints. A patient with bursitis commonly experiences pain in the joints such as the shoulder, elbow, hips, knee, etc that perform repetitive motion.

Bursitis often leads to swelling and inflammation which can either be sudden or build up over time. Depending on the severity, bursitis may go away in a week or may take months to get treated. While the condition is common in the older population, it can affect any individual with jobs that involve a lot of stress on the joints.

What are the symptoms of Bursitis?

Bursitis symptoms primarily include swelling, inflammation and redness around the joints. Patients with bursitis often experience the following:

  • Pain, especially during the movement
  • Limited range of motion
  • Itchy or stiff feeling
  • Fever & chills in case of an infection
  • The tender or warm area around the skin

What are the causes of Bursitis?

Bursitis often causes pain in the joints that put pressure on the bursae. People usually into sports that involve throwing the ball, repeated heavy lifting over the head, extensive kneeling, etc, are at risk of getting bursitis. Occasionally, sudden injury or infection can also cause inflammation. However, depending on the medical health of the patient the severity of the condition may vary. Common risk factors that contribute to bursitis causes include:

  • Age
  • Medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, gout, or thyroid disease.
  • Poor posture or poorly positioned joint bone.

How is Bursitis diagnosed?

Bursitis diagnosis involves a physical examination where the doctor will look for swelling and redness. Moreover, since heredity is a risk factor for bursitis, your family history may also be examined. In case of severe infections, the doctor may recommend the following tests which can confirm the inflammation of bursae:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • Blood Test
  • Sample of fluid from the bursae

What are the treatment methods for Bursitis?

Depending on the severity and type of Bursitis, the doctor may recommend different options for Bursitis treatment. The aim of the treatment is to stop inflammation and reduce the pain for an improved range of motion. Bursitis treatment include the following options:

  • Medications such as antibiotics to manage inflammation caused due to infection.
  • Therapy includes physical or occupational to increase the range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the affected area.
  • Injections of corticosteroids to relieve pain and inflammation in the joints quickly.
  • Assistive Devices such as a walking cane or other mechanical devices can reduce the pressure on the affected area and help the patient perform everyday tasks smoothly.
  • Surgical intervention to surgically drain or remove the inflamed bursae in case other treatment methods are ineffective.

What Are The Preventive Measures Against Bursitis?

Since bursitis is caused due to excess stress in the joints, it is important to prevent repetitive strain on such joints. It is also crucial to use proper precautions while engaging in any sports or activities to prevent injury or sudden pressure on the joints. Bursitis prevention mostly involves:

  • Learning correct posture for sports and other physical activities
  • Avoid kneeling for too long
  • Eating healthy
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get adequate rest
  • Apply ice in case of pain and swelling
  • Do minimal exercises without putting pressure on the joints


When should I consult the doctor for my bursitis pain?

Consult the doctor for bursitis in case of the following:

  • Extreme pain which makes it difficult for you to carry out your daily activities
  • The soreness which gets worse with time
  • Recurring bursitis
  • High fever
  • Redness, swelling or warmth in the affected area

What is the difference between arthritis and bursitis?

While arthritis and bursitis are both associated with joint pain, arthritis is caused due to constant wear and tear of the cartilage. Bursitis is caused due to inflammation which can be short-term if treated in time.

Can I get bursitis again?

Yes, there is a possibility of recurring bursitis in the same area due to repeated flare-ups. If the joint is exposed to repeated stress it can damage the bursae. Get in touch with the doctor if you are experiencing bursitis symptoms for early treatment.

Where does bursitis occur?

Bursitis mostly occurs in joints that perform repetitive motion. There are over 150 bursae located in the body which can develop into bursitis over a period of time. Bursitis commonly occurs in:

  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Feet
  • Hips

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