A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and other moving parts, such as muscles, tendons, or skin. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed. People get bursitis by overusing a joint. It can also be caused by an injury. It usually occurs at the knee or elbow. Kneeling or leaning your elbows on a hard surface for a long time can make bursitis start. Doing the same kinds of movements every day or putting stress on joints increases your risk.

Symptoms of bursitis include pain and swelling. Your doctor will diagnose bursitis with a physical exam and tests such as x-rays and MRIs. He or she may also take fluid from the swollen area to be sure the problem isn't an infection.

Treatment of bursitis includes rest, pain medicines, or ice. If there is no improvement, your doctor may inject a drug into the area around the swollen bursa. If the joint still does not improve after 6 to 12 months, you may need surgery to repair damage and relieve pressure on the bursa.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Symptoms of Bursitis

The following features are indicative of Bursitis:
  • stiffness
  • hurt more when you move it
  • swelling
  • redness

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Common Causes of Bursitis

The following are the most common causes of Bursitis:
  • throwing something over the head repeatedly
  • leaning on the elbows for long periods
  • prolonged sitting
  • sitting on hard surfaces

Other Causes of Bursitis

The following are the less common causes of Bursitis:
  • injury to the affected area
  • inflammatory arthritis
  • gout

Risk Factors for Bursitis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Bursitis:
  • repetitive motion on particular bursae
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • gout
  • diabetes

Prevention of Bursitis

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Bursitis. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • use kneeling pads
  • lift things properly
  • take frequent breaks
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • strengthen the muscles by warming up and stretching

Occurrence of Bursitis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Bursitis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Widely occurring between 500K - 1 Million cases

Common Age Group

Bursitis can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Bursitis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Bursitis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Bursitis:
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound: To produce the pictures of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints throughout the body

Doctor for Diagnosis of Bursitis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Bursitis:
  • Orthopedist

Complications of Bursitis if untreated

Yes, Bursitis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Bursitis is left untreated:
  • bone collapses
  • pain
  • arthritis

Procedures for Treatment of Bursitis

The following procedures are used to treat Bursitis:
  • Surgery: Inflamed bursa is surgically drained

Self-care for Bursitis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Bursitis:
  • Do rest: Immobilize the affected area
  • Icing Therapy: Apply ice to reduce swelling
  • Keep the affected area in comfortable position: Cushion your knees when you sleep
  • Reduce elbow pressure: Avoid elbow pressure by not placing the weight on elbows

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Bursitis

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Bursitis:
  • Physical Therapy: Strengthen the muscles in the affected area
  • Assistive device: Use of a walking cane or other device will help in relieving pressure

Time for Treatment of Bursitis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Bursitis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 3 - 6 months

Is Bursitis Infectious?

Yes, Bursitis is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • septic bursitis spreads through cut, scrape and punctured skin

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Bursitis.
Elbow Injuries and Disorders
Hip Injuries and Disorders
Knee Injuries and Disorders

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