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Bursitis - Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Bursitis - Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Bursitis is a painful condition causing inflammation of the bursae, which are the fluid-filled, small sacs present in the joints. For more details read below.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Published At November 28, 2020
Reviewed AtJanuary 29, 2024

What Is Bursitis?

A painful condition that results in swelling or inflammation of the bursae, which are the fluid-filled, small sacs present in your joints, is called bursitis. These bursae cushion the bones, muscles, and tendons in the joints. Each bursa is lined with synovial cells, which are the cells that produce a lubricant to reduce friction between the tissues in the joint. Your joints move easily because of this cushioning and lubrication.

The inflammation of the bursae makes the joint painful on pressure and movement. The joints commonly affected are the shoulder, hip, and elbow, but it can also affect the knee and heel. This condition typically affects joints that are used repetitively. An infection of the joint can also result in bursitis.

The treatment for bursitis includes rest and preventing further joint injury. Most people feel better in a few weeks with treatment but often suffer from frequent flare-ups.

What Are the Types of Bursitis?

Depending on the joint affected, the common types of bursitis are:

  1. Elbow Bursitis - Otherwise called olecranon bursitis. It is the inflammation of the olecranon bursa present between the skin and elbow bones. It can result from constant pressure on the elbow.

  2. Knee Bursitis - Also called goosefoot bursitis or Pes Anserine bursitis. This bursa is located on the inside of the knee between the shinbone and the hamstring muscles. It is caused by a lack of stretching, being obese, tight hamstring muscles, and arthritis.

  3. Kneecap Bursitis - Otherwise called prepatellar bursitis. It commonly affects people who sit, taking the support of the knees (kneel).

  4. Hip Bursitis - Otherwise called trochanteric bursitis. This type of bursitis commonly results from a hip injury, spinal abnormalities, overuse, and arthritis. It is common in middle-aged and older women.

  5. Anterior Achilles Tendon Bursitis - Otherwise called Albert's disease. Injury, wearing shoes with a firm back extension, and disease of the Achilles tendon can result in this type of bursitis. Here, the bursa in front of the tendon in the heel gets affected.

  6. Posterior Achilles Tendon Bursitis - Otherwise called Haglund's deformity. The bursa present between the skin of the heel and the Achilles tendon gets affected. It commonly affects young women.

  7. Infectious Bursitis - Also called septic bursitis. Sometimes the bursae can get infected, resulting in swelling, pain, and fever.

What Are the Causes of Bursitis?

Inflammation of your bursae usually occurs due to:

  • Repetitive motions or overuse.

  • Direct joint injury.

  • Direct impact or pressure over the area, such as repeated bumping or prolonged pressure on the knee due to kneeling.

  • Injury due to incorrect posture.

  • Activities, such as gardening, scrubbing, painting, shoveling, etc., can result in joint overuse or injury.

  • People who are suffering from gout, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to develop bursitis. This is because crystals form inside the bursae, which makes them swell.

  • Athletes, especially those who play tennis, golf, etc., are more likely to be affected by bursitis.

  • Infection can also sometimes cause bursitis. Bacteria can enter through a cut on the skin. People with a compromised immune system are more prone to this.

  • Stress from a poorly positioned joint due to leg length differences or arthritis.

  • Other conditions that can result in bursitis are psoriasis, thyroid problems, or drug reaction.

  • Some other activities that can affect your joint are repetitive bending of elbows, overhead lifting, walking with ill-fitted shoes, sitting for long periods on a hard surface, and stretching.

What Are the Risk Factors of Bursitis?

The risk factors for bursitis are as follows:

  • Old-age people are more prone to bursitis because of natural wear and tear in the joints.
  • Systemic conditions like diabetes, gout, and arthritis can contribute to a higher risk of bursitis.
  • Improper or poor posture can strain joints and increase the risk of bursitis.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bursitis?

The common signs and symptoms of bursitis include:

  1. Joint swelling.
  2. Joint pain.
  3. Redness.
  4. Thickening of the bursae.
  5. Inability to move the affected joint.
  6. Cracking sound on moving the joint.
  7. Discomfort.
  8. Difficulty sleeping.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose Bursitis?

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will examine the affected joint, and he or she will ask you about any recent activities that might be responsible for the inflammation. In case you have a fever, the doctor might take a sample of fluid from the affected bursa. The fluid will then be checked for the presence of bacteria or crystals.

Sometimes, the doctor might ask you to get additional tests to eliminate other severe conditions that can result in similar symptoms. You might have to get an X-ray to rule out a fracture, a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis, and CT or MRI to see if there is a ligament tear.

What Are the Treatment Options for Bursitis?

Most cases of bursitis get better on their own with some home remedies like:

  • Rest.

  • Avoid overusing the affected joint.

  • Cold compresses for two days after symptoms start to reduce swelling.

  • After two days, apply heat using a heating pad or take a hot water bath.

  • To reduce pain and swelling, you can try over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen or Naproxen sodium.

  • Place a small pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side to cushion your knees.

If the pain and swelling are not getting better even after trying home remedies, then you might need:

  1. Medication - If the lab reports of the sample collected from the bursae show bacteria, then the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

  2. Injections - If you have severe pain and swelling, the doctor will inject a corticosteroid into the bursa. This will give quick relief from pain and inflammation.

  3. Physical Therapy - A physiotherapist will teach you exercises to strengthen the affected joint muscles and ways to prevent a recurrence.

  4. Walking Aids - To help relieve pressure from the knee or heel, the doctor might suggest using a cane or other devices to help you walk.

  5. Surgery - Surgery is rarely done. Here, the inflamed bursa is surgically drained, and sometimes the affected bursae might be surgically removed.

How Is Bursitis Prevented?

It is not always possible to prevent bursitis, but the following tips might help reduce the risk of developing bursitis and prevent a recurrence:

  1. If you are overweight, reduce weight to prevent extra stress on your joints.

  2. Perform exercises to strengthen the joint muscles.

  3. Maintain proper posture while sitting and standing.

  4. If you experience pain, stop that activity immediately.

  5. If your work requires you to perform repetitive activities, then take frequent breaks.

  6. Always warm-up.


Bursitis is a painful condition that is due to the inflammation of the sacs present in between the joints. The affected joints are the elbow, shoulder, knee, and heel joints. The patient may experience pain, swelling, difficulty in sleeping, and inability to move the affected joint. Bursitis usually improves with treatment, but in some cases, it can become a chronic or long-lasting condition. If an individual has pain in the joint, consult a doctor online, and start the treatment immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Can We Treat Bursitis?

Conservative treatment measures like adequate rest, applying an ice pack, and pain-relieving medications help relieve the discomfort caused by bursitis. However, if the conservative treatment fails, antibiotics, physiotherapy, corticosteroid injection, surgery, or assistive devices help.


What Provokes Bursitis?

Repetitive actions that pressurize the particular bursa of joints result in bursitis. These activities include throwing, leaning, and kneeling.


What Are the Complications of Untreated Bursitis?

Untreated bursitis can lead to chronic pain and muscle atrophy. Chronic pain can be due to permanent enlargement of the bursa which thereby, results in reduced physical activity and atrophy of the adjacent muscles.


Which Vitamin Is Helpful for Bursitis?

Vitamin B12 injections and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids help in alleviating the symptoms of bursitis.


What Are the Foods to Be Avoided in Bursitis?

- Processed foods.
- Salt.
- Eggs.
- Meat.
- Dairy products.
- Alcohol.
- Soft drinks.
- Vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper, etc.
- Citrus fruits.
- Animal fats.
- Caffeine.


How Is Bursitis Different From Arthritis?

Bursitis involves the temporary inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac in the joint, whereas arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the bones, joints, and cartilage. Also, bursitis occurs as a result of overuse, infection, or injury. On the other hand, arthritis is caused by normal wear and tear, which increases with age and also runs in families.


How Can We Treat Bursitis of the Hip Quickly?

- Adequate rest.
- Applying ice packs for 20 to 30 minutes every four hours.
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications like Naproxen, Ibuprofen, and Celecoxib.
- Strengthening and stretching exercises.


What Are the Exercises to Be Avoided in Hip Bursitis?

Running, jumping, and other high-impact activities should be avoided in bursitis of the hip; instead, walking is recommended.


Do Walking Help in Healing Bursitis?

Walking on uneven surfaces increases the pressure, and so it is better to avoid it. On your doctor's advice, slowly start walking on a flat surface using supportive shoes, and make sure not to push beyond your limits as it can increase inflammation.


Can Hip Bursitis Be Healed From Massage?

Strengthening exercises should be carried out on slow progression so that it does not cause tiredness and discomfort the next day. Also, make sure not to massage bursitis affected area.


Does Bursitis Pain Radiate to the Leg?

Bursitis of the hip is characterized by pain and soreness, which radiate to the thighs on the same side. Also, the pain increases with walking, climbing stairs, etc.


What Is the Quickest Way to Treat Bursitis of the Shoulder?

Rest, applying an ice pack, over-the-counter pain-relieving medications, wearing a shoulder brace, and gentle stretching exercises help treat shoulder bursitis.


Why Does Bursitis Pain Increase at Night?

Bursitis of the shoulder is flared up at night because lying down on a particular side compresses the bursa further, leading to increased pain than it usually would be.


How Does Bursitis of the Hip Manifest?

Aching, redness, swelling, and increased pain on movement or pressure are the manifestations of bursitis.


What Is the Time Taken for Hip Bursitis to Heal?

Bursitis of the hip usually takes about six weeks to heal. However, the recovery period may vary depending on the age, presence of other inflammatory conditions, and physiotherapy.
Dr. Patel Tejashkumar Govindbhai
Dr. Patel Tejashkumar Govindbhai

Orthopedician and Traumatology


activity restrictionrheumatoid arthritisjoint swellingjoint painbursitis
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