Bursitis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Bursitis is a condition that mostly affects the small, fluid-filled sacs that are called bursae. Bursae cushions our bones, muscles near our joints and tendons. When the bursae get inflamed, bursitis occurs.

The most common locations for bursitis are in the elbow, shoulder, and hip. But then, one can have bursitis by the knee, base of the big toe, and heel. Bursitis often happens near the joints that perform repetitive motions.

Where does Bursitis occur?

Bursitis can develop in joints that are used over and over in the same way or in the places where there is a lot of pressure that is put such as;

Elbows  – Olecranon bursitis, which is also called the miner’s or barfly’s elbow.

Knees – housemaid’s knee or prepatellar bursitis

Shoulders – Subacromial bursitis.

Feet – commonly in the toe, heel, or ball of the foot

Buttocks – ischial bursitis or weaver’s bottom

Hips – trochanteric bursitis

What are the different types of bursitis?

There are several types of bursitis as there are over 150 bursae in the human body.

The following are the four forms.

Prepatellar bursitis is basically an inflammation around the kneecap, also known as the patella. This type of bursitis can be both chronic as well as acute.

Retrocalcaneal bursitis may cause swelling and pain in the heels and can be chronic or acute. Starting a strenuous exercise without any proper warm-up may also cause bursitis. If you wear shoes that are too tight at the back of the heel can make things worse as it rubs against the bursa. 

Trochanteric bursitis happens in the bursae of the hips and may develop very slowly. There are chances of it appearing alongside other medical conditions such as arthritis.

Olecranon bursitis. The inflammation around the elbow is known as Olecranon bursitis. The bursae are located at the tip of your elbow. Small nodules can be felt within the bursae, and it is usually chronic.

What are the leading causes of Bursitis?

Bursitis is commonly caused by repetitive positions or motions that are put on the bursae around the joint. For example

Leaning on elbows for a more extended period

Lifting something over the head repeatedly

Extensive use of knees while kneeling for scrubbing floors or laying carpets

The other causes of bursitis include trauma or injury to the affected area, inflammatory arthritis such as gout, infection, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the main risk factors for Bursitis?

Anyone can develop Bursitis, but there are a few factors that can increase your risk.

Aging – Bursitis becomes more familiar with aging.

Certain hobbies and occupations: If you are into certain hobbies or work that requires repetitive motion or pressure on particular bursae, your risk of developing bursitis increases. Examples include gardening, painting, carpet laying,

Medical conditions: Certain diseases and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, gout can increase your risk of developing bursitis. Being overweight can also increase your risk of developing knee and hip bursitis.

Other risk factors include,

  • Getting an infection that can spread to your bones, joints, and bursae
  • Injuries to Bursae
  • Improper posture

How is Bursitis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will try to know the various symptoms and do a physical exam to check if the joint is swollen or painful. There will be a number of tests done, including:

X-rays may rule out the other problems that may be causing the pain.  With the help of an MRI and ultrasound, the doctor will get a clear image of your joint.

Your doctor may do lab tests. A needle will be used to take a bit of fluid from your bursae and the doctor will do a test to rule out any signs of infection.

How is Bursitis treated?

Bursitis may be relieved by rest, pain medication, and icing the joints. But, there are other treatments that may be necessary for Bursitis.

The doctor can prescribe antibiotics where the bursa is infected.

For relieving pain, inflammation, and swelling, Corticosteroids can be used. The steroids can be used as long as there is no evidence of any infection in or around the bursa.

The doctor may also recommend exercises that can be done at home. These exercises may help relieve pain and other symptoms. In rare cases, the doctor may suggest physical therapy.

How can bursitis be prevented?

People with a history of bursitis should take a few preventive steps to lower the risk of recurrence. The following prevention strategies are suggested:

  • Try to avoid certain positions that tend to irritate the affected bursa, such as leaning on the elbows or kneeling.
  • Take breaks from the repetitive actions or motions that may irritate bursae.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting extra stress on your joints.
  • Treating certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis that is linked to bursitis.

When should I see a doctor?

Most cases of bursitis improve without taking any treatment, and that too over a few weeks.  You should see a doctor if you have the following symptoms:

  • You have pain that is interfering with your daily activities
  • Bursitis that recurs
  • Fever
  • Swelling, redness, or warmth in the injured areas
  • Soreness that doesn’t go away despite self-care measures

If you have any further queries regarding Bursitis, please contact Dr. Suhas @..

About The Doctor

Dr. A.B. Suhas Masilamani is a Consultant Robotic Joint Replacement Surgeon and Program Director of Sunshine OrthRobotics at Sunshine Hospitals, Hyderabad. He is one of the best orthopedic surgeons trained in New York, USA, and obtained fellowships in adult hip and knee replacement and robotic surgery. He is also one of the few certified trainers in India for Robotic Joint Replacement. 

Dr. Suhas practices all the modern techniques in Orthopedics, like robotic joint replacement, minimally invasive techniques for total knee and total hip replacement, Unicondylar knee replacement, and patella-femoral replacement. He is one of the very few surgeons from the city to become a member of the American Academy of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS). He is also a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the International Congress for Joint Replacement (ICJR).