Understanding Bursitis

Joint pain can be difficult to diagnose and treat correctly. While joint pain can be tied to many different causes, one of the most common is bursitis. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a sac filled with a special fluid produced by the body that helps cushion joint movement. It most often occurs in adults over 40 years of age.


Friction between bones, muscles, tendons, and skin can irritate the bursa. There are three ways the bursa can become inflamed: by trauma, infection, and rheumatoid conditions.

Traumatic bursitis can be acute and chronic. Acute bursitis occurs due to a sudden impact or event such as falling, thus injuring the bursa in the hip or knee. However, chronic bursitis occurs due to repeated motion, such as swinging a tennis racket, kneeling on a hard floor, or throwing a baseball.

When bacteria penetrate the bursa lying near the surface of the skin, septic bursitis may develop. Diabetics, alcoholics, kidney patients and other patients whose immune systems have been compromised due to disease or medication are susceptible.

People with gout or pseudogout often develop rheumatoid bursitis. Crystal deposits form in the bursa causing irritation and inflammation.


You may experience swelling, tenderness, and fever in the affected joint. Pain is a common symptom and can occur suddenly or progress gradually. The elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and Achilles tendon are the areas of the body most often affected by bursitis.


Your orthopedic doctor may suggest that you rest the injured area by curtailing the activity that is causing the problem. You can also manage pain with over the counter pain relievers. However, if the condition persists or worsen, your physician may suggest stronger medications. Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and are administered orally or by an injection directly into the inflamed area. Physical therapy can improve motion. As a last resort, surgery may be an option.

Preventing Bursitis

Keep muscles strong and well-toned by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. Warm up before strenuous activity, and wear properly fitting shoes to protect your feet.