What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a type of tendonitis which can be a very painful condition.  It is the inflammation or irritation of the bursa.  The bursa is a sac filled with fluid that cushions and protects the joints.  In turn, the joint functions more smoothly. Bursitis is ususally most prevalent in the elbow, hip, knee or shoulder; however, it can occur in any joint of your body.

Tuberculous bursitis

Image by Pulmonary Pathology via Flickr

Symptoms of Bursitis

Some of the common symptoms of bursitis are pain, inflammation and swelling in areas like the shoulder, knee, hip and elbows.  Pain is usually experienced during stretching.

Diagnosis of Bursitis:

A doctor will usually perform a variety of tests to determine if you have bursitis or something more chronic such as rheumatoid arthritis or tendonitis.  This may involve one or more of the following:

  1. taking an x-ray of the affected area
  2. blood tests to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis
  3. MRI
  4. aspiration – a procedure to remove some fluid from the bursa, examine it under a microscope to rule out the possibility of infection or gout.

Treatment of Bursitis:

There are a number of things you can do to relieve the pain of bursitis.  Treatment usually consists of stretching the joint, taking an NSAID such as ibuprofen to reduce the pain and inflammation, icing the injuury or, in more severe cases, the injection of a corticosteroid at the site of pain.  Heat and ultrasound will help relax the joint and increase mobility.

Prevention of Bursitis:

Stretching is very helpful.  Be sure to warm up properly prior to stretching and cool down immediately after the exercises, cushion the joints and, above all, avoid activitis which may aggrevate the conditon.

Exercises for Bursitis