A bursa is a thin sac. It lies between bone and soft tissue near certain joints. A healthy bursa allows smooth movement of soft tissue over the bone. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. This inflammation can make it painful to move the nearby joint.
Bursitis occurs most often in the: ShoulderElbowKneeHip
Bursitis in the Shoulder
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Bursitis may be caused by: A blow to an area containing a bursaRepetitive stress on the bursaInfection in bursaLong periods of pressure on joint—leaning on elbows, sitting or kneeling on hard surfaces
Medical conditions that cause inflammation in joints such as
If the stress is not relieved, bursitis can become chronic (long term) condition. This can make permanent changes of the bursa.
Factors that increase your chance for bursitis include: Repetitive motion activities when done to an extreme (for example, swimming, running, or tennis)
Job that requires:
Repetitive motions such as hammering or paintingLong hours in one position such as a carpenter kneelingContact sportsSporting gear that is too tightPuncture or deep cut that involves bursa
Symptoms of bursitis include: Pain in the areaSwellingReddened skinWarmth around the area of the bursaDecreased motion of the nearby jointDecreased function of the nearby limb
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and your physical activities. The painful area will be examined. You may have an x-ray.
treatment will focus on decreasing the inflammation and pain. The main step is to stop the activity causing the pain. You will be asked to rest the area involved and protect it from trauma.
Your doctor may also recommend: Applying ice to the area in the first few daysAnti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxenCrutches or cane if knee or hip bursitis needs support
If the bursitis is very painful, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection. These injections have short-term benefits and some risk. They may be limited to conditions that interfere with daily activities.
Chronic bursitis may need more aggressive treatment. Additional steps may include: Physical therapy—sessions may include exercises and heat therapySurgery—only if all other treatments are not effective
The following steps may help to prevent bursitis: Do not overdo sports and other activities.When doing a new activity, gradually increase the intensity and duration of activity.Make sure you perform activities correctly.Wear properly fitting, protective pads if you play contact sports.Use proper safety equipment at work.Work with an ergonomic specialist to improve work related activities.
Human Tendons: Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; 1997.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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