A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that is found between skin, muscles, tendons and bones. It lubricates and acts as a cushion in decreasing the friction, rubbing and irritation between these parts with movement. Bursitis refers to the inflammation or swelling of the bursa. It can affect the joints such as the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder and ankle. Bursitis is most commonly seen in adults of over 40 years.
Bursitis is often caused due to repetitive movements of your joints. Overuse of the joints during sports or at work may lead to irritation of the bursa. Bursitis may also occur due to gout, severe injuries or trauma. Sitting for a long time on hard surfaces, extensive kneeling, leaning on your elbows, incorrect posture or poor stretching before exercises, are some of the causes for the development of bursitis. Age, arthritis, infection and being overweight can also add to the risk of inflammation of the bursa.
The main symptoms of bursitis include pain and swelling in the affected joint. The pain may get worse, particularly if you have calcium deposits. You may experience tenderness, stiffness and difficulty during movement. Bursitis may also cause warmth and redness around your joints.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your physician or surgeon will take a full medical history and conduct a physical examination. Imaging studies such as Xray, ultrasound and MRI scans can be helpful on occasion. Blood tests can also be helpful to exclude conditions such as infection arthritis and gout. Bursitis can be effectively treated with conservative therapy. Your doctor may advise you to avoid activities that strain the injured area. You may be asked to take sufficient rest and use ice packs to reduce the inflammation.
Physical exercise and splinting may be recommended to help improve range of motion of the affected region. Your doctor may prescribe analgesics and ant-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain and swelling. Corticosteroids may be injected at the region of the inflamed bursa to relieve pain. Surgery is very rarely performed and may be needed only when conservative treatment is ineffective.
Bursitis can be prevented by:
- Warming up before exercising
- Wearing knee pads when kneeling down
- Taking frequent breaks and walking
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Regularly exercising
- Bending your knees when you lift heavy objects