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Everything You Need To Know About Bursitis

Jan 26, 2008
Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, which is a sac that is located between certain tissues of the body including the tendons, muscle, skin and bone. This sac is filled with a lubricating fluid that helps decrease friction and irritation caused due to constant rubbing.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis is typically caused due to repetitive movement or minor impact on the area. It could also be caused, though very rarely, from sudden, more injury. Age is also a contributing factor as tendons become easier to tear, less elastic and less tolerable to stress as they age. Adults over 40 are more likely to suffer from bursitis.

Overuse of the joint or injury also increases the risk of bursitis. Activities that are high-risk for bursitis include carpentry, gardening scrubbing, shoveling, raking and painting. Incorrect posture and poor conditioning can also lead to bursitis and so can inadequate stretching prior to exercising.

Arthritis in the joint or abnormalities such as length differences in the legs can also bring about bursitis because of the additional stress on the bursa sac.

Symptoms of Bursitis

Bursitis typically affects the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, Achilles tendon or base of the thumb.

The most common symptom is pain at the site of the bursa and in the surrounding area. Though the pain usually builds up gradually, it can be sudden and severe if there are calcium deposits present. Frozen shoulder, wherein there is loss of motion in the shoulder could be one of the signs of bursitis.

Preventing Bursitis

Gradual buildup of low-impact physical activities with limited repetitions is the best way to prevent bursitis. In the event of any unusual pain, stop the activity and try again another day.

Treating Bursitis

Treatment of bursitis includes:
Resting the injured and painful area
Refraining from those activities that aggravate the painful condition
Application of ice pack, especially immediately after the injury
Taking anti-inflammatory medications

A visit to the doctor is a must if the symptoms do not subside within a week. A doctor will typically prescribe stronger medications and very often, corticosteroids are injected directly at the site of the injury for quick relief from pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy by way of range of motion exercises forms an important component of bursitis treatment. Sometimes splinting of the thumb and forearm are also done.

Surgery is not considered an option except in rare cases when bursitis does not respond to any of the other treatment methods.
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