What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a medical issue where a bursa becomes swollen and inflamed. A bursa is a fluid filled sac that is between the bones in a joint. This fluid filled sack protects tendons and bones from each other. A bursa can become inflamed anywhere on the body. Some areas a bursa can appear are:

  • the hip
  • the knee
  • the elbow
  • the shoulder
  • the wrist
  • the ankle
  • the Achilles tendon
  • the foot

Bursitis occurs through injuries or continuous movement to the area. Bursitis can develop from many physical activities such as sports (running, tennis etc.) and household chores (such as scrubbing the floors, which led to Bursitis being nicknamed housewife knee or housewife elbow).

Bursitis can also develop due to infections or complications due to particular health issues, including rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the Symptoms of Bursitis?

The symptoms of bursitis will largely depend on how severe the inflammation of the bursa is.

Symptoms include

  • high temperature
  • shivering
  • infections
  • broken skin
  • inflammation
  • pain
  • aching

Bursitis Causes

An infection, injury or a pre-existing condition are common causes of bursitis. A hard bump can affect the joint area causing bursitis. As we grow older, our body’s tolerance for stress and shock lessens; the tendons lose elasticity and tear more easily, raising the risk of bursitis.

Injuries happen with overuse or repetitive motions from daily activities, sports, and hobbies. Bad posture, incorrect stretching routines or physical conditioning exercises can cause some level of stress leading to bursitis. Going to church and kneeling or wearing the wrong shoes for running increase the chance of bursitis. In some cases, it does take time before any of these injuries irritate the tissue enough to cause the inflammation associated with bursitis.

Bacteria entering through a skin laceration near the joint area can develop an infection quickly. There are cases with no sign of a wound to the skin, but excessive swelling, rash or redness is present. This condition is called bursitis septic. The pain can be severe with serious infection levels. This can be a trigger of bursitis for individuals with weak immune systems.

How is Bursitis Treated?

Bursitis can be treated at home in many cases, although more severe cases should be treated under the care of a doctor. Treatment at home includes using ice packs in order to combat the swelling and using painkillers to deal with the pain (such as aspirin and paracetamol). The swelling can take several weeks to disappear. Padding, such as knee, elbow or wrist pads, can help protect the area from additional damage. Do not sleep on the same side that you have bursitis on. When possible, raise the area higher than your heart in order to help with the inflammation.

If the bursitis is severe, the doctor may recommend draining the area using a sterile preparation method. This is called aspiration and involves a needle draining out the fluid. If this does not work, then corticosteroid injections into the area are another possibility. Surgery to remove the infected bursa is another option to consider but is only carried out in severe cases when there is no other option. If the bursa is removed, a medically created replacement may be inserted into the space. This will provide the same protection as a natural bursa, but may need to be replaced over time.

Bursitis Prevention

There are safety measures you can take to prevent bursitis. If you are planning to workout, or participate in sporting events, help your body gain its strengthen slowly. You will most likely reach your performance goal without injuring yourself. If an injury occurs, bursitis will stop you from exercising or working until the condition is fully healed.

Treatments of bursitis range from medical procedures and medications to therapy and assisted devices during healing. Home and self-treatments include rest, cold compression or over the counter pain relievers.

A healthy weight helps to reduce stress to our joints keeping us active. Individuals with poor health or existing health conditions need to talk with their doctor before beginning any form of exercise.