Bursitis: What You Need to Know

Bursitis: What You Need to Know

Bursitis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It occurs when the bursae, which are small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near the joints, become irritated or infected. Bursitis can affect any joint in the body, but it is more common in the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee.

Causes and Risk Factors

Bursitis can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Repetitive movements or overuse of the joint
  • Injury or trauma to the joint
  • Infection of the bursa
  • Arthritis or gout
  • Age-related degeneration of the joint

Some people are more prone to developing bursitis than others, such as:

  • Athletes or people who engage in physical activities that put stress on the joints
  • People who have occupations that involve kneeling, bending or lifting
  • People who have poor posture or alignment of the joint
  • People who have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or other chronic conditions that affect the immune system

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Causes and Risk Factors

The main symptom of bursitis is pain in the affected joint, which may be worse with movement or pressure. The joint may also be swollen, red, warm or tender to touch. Sometimes, bursitis can cause fever, chills or pus drainage if the bursa is infected.

To diagnose bursitis, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and your symptoms. They will also examine your joint and look for signs of inflammation or infection. They may order some tests, such as:

  • X-rays to rule out other causes of joint pain, such as fractures or arthritis
  • Ultrasound or MRI to visualize the bursa and check for fluid accumulation or damage
  • Blood tests to check for signs of infection or inflammation
  • Fluid analysis to test the fluid from the bursa for bacteria or crystals

Treatment and Prevention

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The treatment of bursitis depends on the cause and severity of the condition. The main goals are to reduce pain and inflammation, prevent complications and restore function of the joint. Some of the treatment options include:

  • Resting and avoiding activities that aggravate the joint
  • Applying ice packs to the joint for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to ease pain and inflammation
  • Using topical creams or patches that contain anti-inflammatory agents, such as diclofenac or lidocaine
  • Wearing a splint, brace or bandage to support and protect the joint
  • Doing physical therapy or exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve range of motion
  • Getting corticosteroid injections into the bursa to reduce inflammation and pain quickly
  • Taking antibiotics if the bursa is infected
  • Having surgery to drain or remove the bursa if it is severely damaged or infected

To prevent bursitis from recurring or worsening, you can take some steps, such as:

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