General Illness Information

Common Name:

Medical Term: None Specified

Description: Inflammation of a bursa is known as bursitis and causes pain in the affected area.

A bursa is a soft fluid-filled sac that serves as a cushion between tendons and bones. They are located at sites of friction, especially where tendons or muscles pass over a bone, mostly near joints. A bursa normally contains very little fluid. However, when injured, it gets inflammed and fills up with fluid. Bursas most commonly affected are: elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, or the heel (near Achilles tendon).

Causes: The causes of bursitis are frequently unknown.

Possible causes include:

  • Strenuous, unaccustomed exercise;
  • Injury to a joint;
  • Overuse of a joint;
  • Acute or chronic infection;
  • Arthritis;
  • Gout;
  • Calcium deposits in shoulder tendons with degeneration of the tendon.


  • Avoid injuries or overuse of muscles whenever possible.
  • Wear protective gear for contact sports.
  • Appropriate warm-up and cool-down- during exercise.
  • Maintain a high fitness level.

Signs & Symptoms

Pain, tenderness and limited movement in the affected area with radiation of pain into adjacent areas.

Risk Factors

Associated with:

  • Vigorous and repetitive athletic training.
  • Exercise or sports participants who suddenly increase their activity levels (“weekend warriors”).
  • Improper preparation before exercise.

Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

  • Diagnosis of bursitis is considered when the area around the bursa is sore when touched and specific joint movements are painful. If the bursa is really swollen, then a sample of fluid may be extracted with a syringe and the fluid is sent to the laboratory to find out the cause of inflammation such as infection or gout. X-rays are not helpful except in cases where there is calcium deposit.
  • RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation of affected joint).
  • Apply ice packs to the affected area during a flare-up or after receiving injections in the joint.
  • After the acute stage, continued ice treatment (until inflammation subsides) or heat application may be recommended. If you use heat, take hot showers, use a heat lamp, apply hot compresses or a heating pad, or rub in deep-heating ointment.
  • Invasive therapy may include aspiration of the bursa, or surgical excision.


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- such as naproxen, ibuprofen
  • Cortisone injections (mixed with local anesthetic) into the bursa to reduce inflammation may be administered.
  • Pain relievers if necessary.


Rest the inflamed area as much as possible. If you must resume normal activity immediately, wear a sling until the pain becomes more bearable. To prevent a frozen joint (especially in the shoulder), begin normal, slow joint movement as soon as possible.


No special diet.

Possible Complications:

Frozen joint or permanent limitation of joints’ mobility.


This is a common, but not a serious problem. Symptoms usually subside in 7 to 14 days with treatment. Bursitis tends to recur if the underlying cause such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or overuse is not corrected.

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