What is Bursitis? Louisville Orthopedic Surgeon Explains Bursitis including Prevention and Treatment Options

Bursitis is a painful condition that involves the inflammation of bursa. A bursa is a small sac filled with synovial fluid. There are 160 bursae in the human body. When these sacs become inflamed, it leads to bursitis.

The symptoms of bursitis include muscle and joint stiffness, pain and discomfort. The pain from bursitis is often more intense during and following physical activity, and also in the morning after waking. 

Bursitis most commonly affects the knees, shoulder, hips, and the elbows, but you can also get bursitis on your toes and heels.  Sometimes an injury can cause bursitis but it is more typically caused from inflammation induced by repetitive movements over a period of time.

Bursitis becomes increasingly common as people grow older since tendons become more stiff.

Jobs that require performing repetitive movements on a regular basis can also put people at risk for bursitis.  Sitting or kneeling for long periods of time on surfaces that are hard can also lead to bursitis.  In addition, repetitive lifting of heavy objects without the appropriate techniques may injur the bursa sac.

You can do things to prevent bursitis through stretching exercises and allowing ample time for warm up before physical activity.

With treatment, the symptoms of bursitis often subside within a couple of weeks but reoccurrence is common. On rare occasion, a bursa becomes inflamed due to infection.

Infection-induced bursitis also called septic bursitis is treated with antibiotics. In the case of severe infection, it may be necessary to surgically remove the infected bursa sac in a procedure called a bursectomy.

Bursitis that does not involve infection is typically treated with rest and ice. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone injections and/or physical therapy are also recommended.

For more helpful information on bursitis and tendinitis, checkout this fact sheet published by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bursitis/bursitis_tendinitis_ff.pdf

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