What is bursitis?
Bursitis is the condition in which the small, fluid sacs called bursae that cushion the bones which would have rubbed together in its absence, muscles, and tendons, get inflamed. This results in a painful swelling which more commonly happens around the shoulder, elbow, feet, and knees. This condition usually happens due to strenuous activity that puts excessive strain on the joints.
In most cases, bursitis typically heals within a few weeks with proper treatment. However, cases of recurrent inflammation are common. There are more than 150 bursae located all over the body, and bursitis can occur in any of them if they are stressed beyond a certain range.
Bursitis and arthritis, are they similar?
No, it’s not the case. Arthritis is caused due wear and tear in the cartilage that provides the cushioning effect to the joints and the damage caused due to arthritis is permanent and irreversible whereas, in the case of bursitis, there is no considerable “damage”, rather it’s just an inflammation that goes away with proper treatment.
Another frequently confused term is tendinitis, which occurs when a body part is overused, for example, the arm of a baseball pitcher or tennis player, this leads to tendinitis. One may also have bursitis and tendinitis together.
What are the causes of bursitis?
The main cause of bursitis is a repeated activity that puts the same stress over and over on the same joint for prolonged periods of time. This leads to the bursae getting inflamed. This can also happen because of poor posture for long periods of time as it can induce continuous stress and hence lead to bursitis. The list of general activities that can lead to bursitis are:-
– Sports like badminton, tennis, baseball, etc.
What are the symptoms of bursitis?
The main symptoms of bursitis include
– Pain in the joint, during movement
– Loss of range of motion
– Stiffness of joint
– Swelling around the joint
– One might also experience fever and chills if they have an infection
One may consult a doctor if they feel any of the following symptoms
– Pain, to the extent that it causes disability
– Total loss of motion
– Sharp pain on little movement
Risk factors for bursitis
Bursitis can develop in anyone but here are certain factors that increase the risk of one having it
– Age: Just like arthritis, Bursitis is more widespread in aged people
– Occupation: Certain occupations demand performing a strenuous activity repetitively like carpentry, gardening, etc and hence increase the risk of bursitis
– Medical Conditions: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and gout increases the risk of one developing bursitis.
Method of diagnosis
Bursitis is frequently diagnosed based on medical history and physical examination. If necessary, testing could include:
Imaging examinations: X-ray pictures cannot definitively diagnose bursitis, but they can assist in ruling out other possible explanations of the symptoms. If one’s condition can’t be diagnosed with a physical exam alone, an ultrasound or MRI may be done.
Laboratory tests: To determine the source of the joint inflammation and pain, the doctor may conduct blood tests or a fluid analysis from the inflamed bursa.
Methods of treatment
Bursitis usually improves on its own. Rest, ice pack and pain medication are all conservative treatments that can help ease discomfort. If conservative measures fail, one may require:
Medication: If an infection is causing the soreness in the bursa, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Therapy: To relieve discomfort and avoid recurrence, physical therapy or exercises can be used to ease the pain, improve flexibility and prevent a recurrence.
Injections: A corticosteroid injection to the bursa can help reduce shoulder or hip discomfort and inflammation. This medication works rapidly in most situations, and only one injection is required.
Assistive technology: The use of a walking stick or other devices to reduce the pressure on the afflicted area is also preferred.
Surgery: In rare cases, the inflamed bursa is drained directly using surgery. In most cases, it is not necessary as it heals on its own
What one can do at home for relief
Pain relief can typically be achieved at home until one has fully recovered. They could:
– Elevate the damaged area if possible.
– If the pain was caused by a sudden accident rather than repetitive movements, ice the region.
– Apply heat to any persistent pain.
– To restrict the damaged part from moving, use a splint, sling, or brace.
– Ibuprofen or naproxen are two over-the-counter drugs that can help with pain and swelling.
Methods of preventions
Bursitis is most commonly caused by overuse, hence the best therapy is prevention. It’s critical to prevent or change the actions that are causing the issue. Bursitis prevention:
– For sports or work tasks, practice proper posture or technique.
– Spend as little time as possible sitting or kneeling. Joints are put under a lot of strain in these postures.
– Maintain the body weight at healthy levels to relieve joint pressure.
– When kneeling or putting weight on the elbows, use cushions and pads.
To avoid damage
– When working on a repetitive task, take a break.