What is Bursitis?

It is a condition characterized by swelling of bursa, a small fluid-filled sac located between a tendon and bone or between a tendon and skin. The problem can be either acute or chronic.

Bursitis Locations

This condition affects some of the most common areas of the tendon that include,

  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Ankle
  • Heel

Inflammation and pain are common in these regions. The regions affected by Bursitis vary from person to person, as it targets the areas that are uses and irritated the most.

Bursitis Types

Doctors and medical researchers have differentiated Bursitis into several types. Some of these main types of Bursitis are:

Ischiogluteal Bursitis

This is a persistent form of Bursitis that affects the buttock area. It usually arises due to sitting on a hard surface for a prolonged duration.

Iliopectineal bursitis

Iliopectineal bursitis affects the groin region. It is typically worsened by activities such as running, going up stairs and even walking.

Trochanteric bursitis

It targets the outer area of the hip. It frequently arises in obese individuals and gets aggravated due to walking, going up stairs and even sleeping on the affected side.

Gluteus medius bursitis

It affects a region that is slightly posterior to the trochanteric bursa. This is known as Gluteus medius bursa. It is a smaller bursa that is situated between the greater trochanter and the gluteus medius muscle.

Prepatellar bursitis

Also known as “Housemaid’s knee”, this condition is characterized by inflammation over the kneecap. It also leads to pain and limited mobility of the knee. The symptoms typically increase due to kneeling and reduce when the person is sitting still.

Bursitis Symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of Bursitis are:

  • Stiffness
  • Localized pain in joints
  • Burning pain in the joint surrounding the inflamed bursa
  • Pain and stiffness while moving affected joints
  • Redness around impacted joint
  • Warmth around the affected joint
  • Inflammation in the affected joint

Patients usually experience tenderness and pain while pressing the region around the joint. The pain usually worsens during and after activities. This is followed by stiffening of the surrounding joints and the bursa on the next day.

Bursitis Causes

The condition can result due to a number of disorders. Some of these main causes of Bursitis are:

  • Trauma
  • Gout
  • Chronic overuse
  • Infection
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

In rare cases, Bursitis may arise in the shoulders due to Scoliosis (spinal curvature). However, Shoulder Bursitis is found to arise more frequently as a result of overuse of the shoulder joint and associated muscles. It also results commonly due to excessive pressure and repeated motion.

In some cases, the condition cannot be associated to any particular cause.

Bursitis Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Bursitis is typically based on physical exam and the medical history of a patient. Additional tests may require lab tests such as bursal fluid analysis and blood tests. These can help identify the cause of joint pain and inflammation. Imaging tests like X-ray, ultrasound scans or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans may also be used if physical exam alone is not enough to diagnose bursitis.

Bursitis Treatment

Medical treatment for Bursitis involves use of

  • Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), like Ibuprofen
  • Formal Physical Therapy, which helps in reducing inflammation and pain
  • Exercises (helpful for muscle atrophy)

If a person is suffering from acute pain, exercises should be started once medications have successfully controlled painful symptoms to an extent. If patients are found to suffer from muscle atrophy, exercises can help enhance joint mobility and strength.

If initial treatment fails to relieve the inflammation, fluid extraction from the bursa may be necessary. Corticosteroids are injected into the region. In rare cases, surgical operation may be required.

Infected Bursitis Cure

Bursitis resulting from an infection should be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, an infected bursa needs to be drained through surgical means. Infected cases also require further investigation.

Bursitis Natural Cure

Natural relief for this condition can be possible by

  • Immobilization of the impacted joint
  • Temporary rest
  • Advanced massage therapy, which can help reduce inflammation in the region.

Bursitis Surgery

Surgical therapy may be required in cases where all other conservative methods of treatment fail. Surgery mainly involves Bursectomy, an operative procedure that involves cutting out the bursa either with open surgery or endoscopy. The bursa grows back in position a few weeks later, minus any sign of inflammation.

Bursitis Prognosis

The condition may show a good prognosis if treated well. However, if the underlying cause remains uncorrected, it may turn into a chronic condition. With proper care, the painful symptoms should subside over 3 weeks.

Bursitis Complications

The condition can give rise to complications like:

  • Chronic Bursitis
  • Injury to the adjoining tendons

Bursitis Prevention

The disorder can be prevented by avoiding activities that involve repeated movements of any parts of the body. Routine stretching of overused joints can help avoid the development of this problem. Even if the condition surfaces, it should be treated immediately. This will help prevent Bursitis from reaching a more acute stage.

If you are suffering from this disorder and the symptoms make a recurrence or fail to improve even after 2 weeks of medical cure, you should call a healthcare provider. Timely diagnosis and cure can help you avoid more severe stages of the condition as well as its complications.

By   Last updated September 28th, 2012

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