Understanding Bursitis

Bursitis is a painful condition that impacts the small, fluid-filled sacs — called bursae (bur-SEE) — that cushion the tendons, bones, and muscles near your joints. Bursitis happens when bursae become swollen.

The most frequent parts of the body for bursitis are in the elbow, shoulder, and hip. Buy, you can also have bursitis by your heel, knee, and on the base of your big toe. Bursitis often happens near joints that make the constant repetitious motion.

Treatment generally involves relaxing the affected joint and protecting it from further trauma. In most cases, bursitis pain goes away within a few weeks with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common.

Symptoms
If you have bursitis, the affected joint might:

  • Look swollen and red
  • Ache further when you move it or press on it
  • Feel achy or stiff
  • Look swollen and red

You should Visit Your Physician if you Have:

  • Sudden inability to move a joint
  • Disabling joint soreness
  • Extreme swelling, bruising redness or a rash in the affected area
  • A Fever
  • Sharp or shooting pain, especially when you exercise or exert yourself

Causes
The most probable causes of bursitis are repeated motions or positions that put stress on the bursae surrounding a joint. Examples include:

Leaning on your elbows for long periods
Lifting something over your head or throwing a ball repeatedly
Extensive kneeling for activities such as laying carpet or scrubbing floors
Other reasons include trauma or injury to the troubled area, gout, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and infections.

Risk factors
Anyone can acquire bursitis, but particular factors can increase your risk:

Age. Bursitis grows more common with aging.
Occupations or sports. If your job or hobby demands repetitive motion or force on particular bursae, your risk of forming bursitis grows. Examples include gardening, tile setting, carpet laying, painting and playing a musical instrument.
Additional medical conditions. Specific systemic ailments and diseases — such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes — heighten your risk of acquiring bursitis. Being overweight can raise your risk of contracting hip and knee bursitis.

Prevention
While not all kinds of bursitis can be limited, you can decrease your risk and the seriousness of flare-ups by adjusting the way you do specific activities.

Examples include:
Using kneeling pads. Use some padding to decrease the pressure on your knees if your work or hobby demands much kneeling.
Lifting accurately. Bend your knees when you lift something up. Neglecting to do so puts additional stress on the bursae in your hips.
Wheeling heavyweights. Hauling heavy loads puts pressure and strain on the bursae witing your shoulders. Use a wheeled cart or cart instead.
Taking regular breaks. Alternate repetitive tasks with rest or other activities.
Maintaining a healthy weight. Extra weight places more pressure on your joints.
Exercising. Strengthening your muscles can assist to guard your affected joint.
Stretching and warming up before vigorous activities to shield your joints from injury.

Diagnosis
A physician can often diagnose bursitis based on a medical history and physical exam. Testing, if needed, might include:

Imaging tests. X-ray images can’t absolutely establish the diagnosis of bursitis, but they can assist to exclude other reasons for your pain. Ultrasound or MRI might be utilized if your bursitis can’t merely be diagnosed by a physical exam alone.
Lab tests. Your physician may recommend getting blood tests or an examination of fluid from the inflamed bursa to designate the cause of your joint inflammation and pain.

Treatment
Bursitis typically gets better without the need for medical treatment. Conservative measures, such as rest, ice and taking over-the-counter pain reliever medication, can relieve pain. If these measures don’t work, you might require:

  • Medication. If an infection produces the inflammation in your bursa, your physician might prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Therapy. Physical therapy or exercises can stimulate the muscles in the injured area to ease pain and limit recurrence.
  • Injections. A corticosteroid drug injected into the bursa can relieve pain and swell in your shoulder or hip. This treatment usually works quickly and, in many instances, one injection is all you require.
  • Assistive device. Temporary use of a walking cane or another tool will help relieve pressure on the affected area.
  • Surgery. Occasionally an inflamed bursa has to be surgically drained, but only rarely is surgical removal of the affected bursa required.

Lifestyle and home remedies
Steps you can take to alleviate the pain of bursitis includes:

Rest and don’t overuse the affected area.
Apply ice to lessen swelling for the first 48 hours after symptoms occur.
Apply dry or moistened heat, such as a heating pad or taking a warm bath.
Take an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), to ease pain and decrease inflammation. Some are accessible in a topical form you can apply to the skin.
Cushion your knees if you rest on your side by putting a small pillow between your legs.