Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Bursitis
Bursitis is a painful swelling
of a small sac of fluid called a bursa. Bursae (plural of bursa) cushion and
lubricate areas where tendons, ligaments, skin, muscles, or bones rub against
each other. People who repeat the same movement over and over or who put
continued pressure on a joint in their jobs, sports, or daily activities have a
greater chance of getting bursitis.
Bursitis is commonly caused
Bursitis can also be caused by other problems, such as
arthritis or infection (septic bursitis).
Bursitis usually causes a
dull pain, tenderness, and stiffness near the affected bursa. The bursa may
swell and make the skin around it red and warm to the touch.
Bursitis is most common in the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee. Bursitis may
also occur near the Achilles tendon or in the foot.
bursitis may be like those of
tendinopathy. Both occur in the tissues in and
around the joints.
Check with your doctor if your pain is severe, if the sore area becomes
very hot or red, or if you have a fever.
Your doctor will check
for bursitis by asking questions about your past health and recent activities
and by examining the area.
If your symptoms are severe or get worse even after treatment, you may need other tests. Your doctor may drain fluid from the bursa through
a needle (aspiration) and test it for infection. Or you may need X-rays, an MRI, or an ultrasound.
Home treatment is often enough
to reduce pain and let the bursa heal. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy to strengthen
the muscles around your joints.
If you have severe bursitis, your
doctor may use a needle to remove extra fluid from the bursa. You might wear
a pressure bandage on the area. Your doctor may also give you a shot of medicine to reduce swelling. Some
people need surgery to drain or remove the bursa.
fluid in the bursa can get infected. If this happens, you may need
Bursitis is likely to improve in a few days or weeks
if you rest and treat the affected area. But it may
return if you don't stretch and strengthen the muscles around the joint and
change the way you do some activities.
You may be able to
prevent bursitis from happening or coming back.
Learning about bursitis:
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
provides information and education to raise the public's awareness of
musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on preventive measures. The AAOS
website contains information on orthopedic conditions and treatments, injury
prevention, and wellness and exercise.
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the
Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP, a division of ACR) are
professional organizations of rheumatologists and associated health
professionals who are dedicated to healing, preventing disability from, and
curing the many types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal
disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members of the ACR are physicians;
members of the ARHP include research scientists, nurses, physical and
occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. Both the ACR and
the ARHP provide professional education for their members.
website offers patient information fact sheets about rheumatic diseases, about
medicines used to treat rheumatic diseases, and about care
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public
and health professionals by providing information, locating other information
sources, and participating in a national federal database of health
information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention
of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of
scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS website provides
health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information
packages about diseases.
Other Works Consulted
Colburn KK (2011). Bursitis, tendinitis, myofascial pain, and fibromyalgia. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 1011–1015. Philadelphia: Saunders.
McMahon PJ, Kaplan LD (2006). Sports medicine. In HB
Skinner, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 4th ed., pp. 163–220. New York: McGraw-Hill.
September 27, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
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