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Bursa is located in many areas of the body like bone, muscle, tendons and skin. It is a sac like structure that contain fluid and helps in prevention of friction and rubbing between muscle, tendons and bones. When a bursa is healthy, it will help in making normal body movements effortless and painless. However, when the bursa is inflamed, it causes muscle stiffness and reduces the movement between tendons and muscles.

What is Bursitis?

Inflammation of one or more bursae is called as bursitis. This condition usually affects the shoulders, elbow and hips. Some people may develop bursitis in their knee, big toe and even heel. At times, the buttocks and thigh also develop inflammation and pain.

Causes of Bursitis

Inflammation of the bursae is usually due to repetitive movement or an injury. It is very common in athletes and sportsperson. It is also seen in people who have to repetitively bend their elbows or place pressure on their elbows. It is also seen in people who kneel a lot or sit on hard surfaces by bending their knees for a long time. In some cases, it is due to rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

In case of tennis players and golfers, one may suffer from bursitis of the elbow, that is, tennis elbow. Those who kneel a lot, like carpet layers, tile layers, etc. suffer from bursitis of the knee called as Clergyman’s knee. Other causes include playing basketball that causes one to repeatedly life their arms over their head or people who have to carry out similar actions in their daily life. This leads to a frozen shoulder. People who bicycle a lot suffer from stiff buttocks, runners and sprinters suffer from hip bursitis.

Symptoms of Bursitis

The symptoms of bursitis usually include stiffness and pain around a joint. The pain is distinctive due to its stinging nature. This stinging pain worsens when one uses the affected joint. The affected area appears red and swollen. The pain continues for more than 15 days and one may observe a rash in the affected area. A few people may complain of fever due to the inflammation.

Diagnosis of Bursitis

Bursitis usually affects people over the age of 40. It is very common in people who carry out repetitive motions as a part of their hobby or profession. This includes people who play basketball, musical instrument or work as a gardener, carpet layers, etc. Diagnosis is usually based on patient history and physical examination.

The doctor will check for any tenderness and swelling over the bursa. He will also check for pain in the muscles and tendons that lie over the bursa. The doctor may even recommend an ultrasound or MRI to confirm bursitis.

Treatment of Bursitis

The best way to treat bursitis is rest and ice compression. One may be advice use of anti-inflammatory drugs as well as pain medication. If there is an infection of the bursa involved, the patient may be given antibiotics. Massage therapy or physiotherapy will help in reducing the inflammation and pain. Surgery is only required if the inflammation does not reduce. The affected bursa is removed, which can regrow itself in a few weeks.

One should avoid carrying out repetitive movements for a long time. If required, one should take regular breaks to reduce the stress on the bursa. Speak to your doctor, if the inflammation makes your daily activities difficult.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 25, 2015

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