Learn About Bursitis

What is the definition of Bursitis?

Bursitis is the swelling and irritation of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between muscles, tendons, and bones.

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What are the alternative names for Bursitis?

Student's elbow; Olecranon bursitis; Housemaid's knee; Prepatellar bursitis; Weaver's bottom; Ischial gluteal bursitis; Baker's cyst; Gastrocnemius - semimembranosus bursa

What are the causes of Bursitis?

Bursitis is often a result of overuse. It can also be caused by a change in activity level, such as training for a marathon, or by being overweight.

Other causes include trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or infection. Sometimes, the cause can't be found.

Bursitis commonly occurs in the shoulder, knee, elbow, and hip. Other areas that may be affected include the area around the Achilles tendon and the foot.

What are the symptoms of Bursitis?

Symptoms of bursitis may include any of the following:

  • Joint pain and tenderness when you press around the joint
  • Stiffness and aching when you move the affected joint
  • Swelling, warmth or redness over the joint
  • Pain during movement and rest
  • Pain may spread to the nearby areas
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What are the current treatments for Bursitis?

Your provider will talk to you about a treatment plan to help you resume your normal activities, including some of the following tips.

Tips to relieve bursitis pain:

  • Use ice 3 to 4 times a day for the first 2 or 3 days.
  • Cover the painful area with a towel, and place the ice on it for 15 minutes. Do not fall asleep while applying the ice. You can get frostbite if you leave it on too long.
  • Rest the joint.
  • When sleeping, do not lie on the side that has bursitis.

For bursitis around the hips, knees, or ankle:

  • Try not to stand for long periods.
  • Stand on a soft, cushioned surface, with equal weight on each leg.
  • Placing a pillow between your knees when lying on your side can help decrease pain.
  • Flat shoes that are cushioned and comfortable often help.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight may also be helpful.

You should avoid activities that involve repetitive movements of any body part when possible.

Other treatments include:

  • Medicines such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Physical therapy
  • Wearing a brace or splint to support the joint and help reduce inflammation
  • Exercises you do at home to build strength and keep the joint mobile as pain goes away
  • Removing fluid from the bursa and getting a corticosteroid shot

As the pain goes away, your provider may suggest exercises to build strength and keep movement in the painful area.

In rare cases, surgery is done.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Bursitis?

Some people do well with treatment. When the cause cannot be corrected, you may have long-term pain.

What are the possible complications of Bursitis?

If the bursa is infected, it becomes more inflamed and painful. This often requires antibiotics or surgery.

When should I contact a medical professional for Bursitis?

Contact your provider if symptoms recur or do not improve after 3 to 4 weeks of treatment, or if the pain is getting worse.

How do I prevent Bursitis?

When possible, avoid activities that include repetitive movements of any body parts. Be aware of your posture when doing the activities. Strengthening your muscles and working on your balance may help decrease the risk of bursitis.

Bursa of the elbow
Bursa of the knee
Bursitis of the shoulder
What are the latest Bursitis Clinical Trials?
Effects of Sleeper Stretch and Mobilization With Movement in Patients With Adhesive Capsulitis

Summary: Adhesive capsulitis is a condition characterized by progressive declination range of motion at the glenohumeral joint due to tightness of capsule. The joint capsule and its surrounding connective tissue becomes stiffed, inflamed and shortened which in return causes decrease in range of motion that progress to chronic pain and stiffness. Adhesive capsulitis is a self-limiting disorder that resolves...

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An EDucation and eXercise Intervention (EDX-Ireland) for Gluteal Tendinopathy in an Irish Setting: a Feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial (LEAP-Ireland Trial)

Summary: Gluteal tendinopathy, a degenerative condition of the gluteal tendons, is a common cause of lateral hip pain. It is three times more common in women, affecting up to 25% of those aged over 40 years. Research evidence supporting the most effective interventions remains limited. A 2018 landmark three-arm RCT (LEAP trial) in Australia compared EDucation on load management plus eXercise (EDX) against ...

What are the Latest Advances for Bursitis?
A 57-Year-Old Woman with Calcific Tendinitis of the Gluteus Medius Presenting with Right Lateral Hip Pain Managed by Endoscopic Debridement.
Arthroscopic Pan-Capsular and Transverse Humeral Ligament Release with Biceps Tenodesis for Patients with Refractory Frozen Shoulder.
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Combined arthroscopic release with corticosteroid hydrodilatation versus corticosteroid hydrodilatation only in treating freezing-phase primary frozen shoulder: a randomized clinical trial.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: September 20, 2022
Published By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Biundo JJ. Bursitis, tendinitis, and other periarticular disorders and sports medicine. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 247.

Hogrefe C, Jones EM. Tendinopathy and bursitis. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, Erickson TB, Wilcox SR, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 103.