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by Leach RE

Bursitis

Definition

Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a thin sac that lies between bone and soft tissue. It can be found near some joints. A healthy bursa lets muscles and tendons move smoothly over bone. Bursitis is more common in the:
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Knee
  • Hip
Bursitis in the Shoulder
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Causes

Bursitis may be caused by:
  • Injury to an area that contains a bursa
  • Repetitive stress on the bursa
  • Infection in a bursa
  • Long periods of pressure on a joint, such as leaning on elbows, sitting, or kneeling on hard surfaces
  • Health problems that cause inflammation in joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
  • Repetitive motions, such as swimming, running, or tennis
  • A job that requires:
    • Repetitive motions, such as hammering or painting
    • Long hours in one position, such as a kneeling to put down carpeting
  • Contact sports
  • Sporting gear that is too tight
  • A puncture or deep cut that involves the bursa

Symptoms

Bursitis can cause:
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Reddened skin
  • Warmth around the area of the bursa
  • Decreased motion of the nearby joint
  • Decreased movement or strength of the nearby limb

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to ease pain and promote healing. Choices are:
  • Supportive care, such as resting the area and applying cold compresses
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling, such as:
    • Over the counter pain medicine
    • Steroids
  • Physical therapy to promote strength, flexibility, and range of motion
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery.

Prevention

To lower the risk of this problem:
  • Exercise regularly to keep muscles strong
  • Slowly increase the intensity and duration of activities
  • Use the right safety gear and techniques when playing sports
  • Use proper safety equipment at work
  • Take breaks from repetitive tasks

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of General Surgeons
http://www.cags-accg.ca
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

References

Bursitis. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center website. Available at: http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/arthritis-rheumatology/bursitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Bursitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/bursitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Elbow (olecranon) bursitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00028. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Hip bursitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00409. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Prepatellar bursitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/prepatellar-bursitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Reid CR, Bush PM, et al. A review of occupational knee disorders. J Occup Rehabil. 2010 Dec;20(4):489-501.

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