Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating (synovial) fluid. Healthy bursae rest at points where muscles and tendons slide across bones. Healthy bursae create a smooth gliding surface, which is painless.
Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae. Bursitis is often the result of repetitive, minor impact on the area, or from a sudden, more serious injury. Shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are the most commonly affected areas. Age also plays a role, as bursitis is more common in adults (especially in those over 40). Activities of almost any type that over use a joint, including gardening, carpentry, shoveling, raking, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing and pitching can increase a person’s risk of developing bursitis. Incorrect posture and poor stretching technique before exercise can lead to bursitis as well. Stress or inflammation from other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders, or unusual medication reactions may also increase a person’s risk. Occasionally, infections can lead to inflammation of a bursa.
Some common examples of bursitis are:
• Housemaid’s knee – prepatellar bursitis
• Clergyman’s knee – infrapatellar bursitis
• Pain over the outside of the hip – trochanteric bursitis
• Student’s elbow – olecranon bursitis
• Shoulder pain – subacromial bursitis
• Achilles bursitis – often caused from too tight shoes
• Weaver’s bottom – ischial bursitis
• Iliopsoas bursitis
• Pain at the inner knee – anserine bursitis
The most common symptom of bursitis is pain. The pain may build up gradually or be sudden and severe.
Bursitis can be treated in a number of ways, including:
• Avoiding the activities that aggravate the problem
• Resting the injured area
• Icing the area the day of the injury
• Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen
If symptoms persist, one should talk to their physician or primary care provider (PCP). A PCP may also prescribe stronger drugs to reduce the inflammation. They may recommend corticosteroids, also known simply as “steroids,” because they work quickly to decrease the inflammation and pain. Steroids can also be injected directly at the site of the injury. Injections are often, but not always, effective and can be repeated. Multiple injections in a several month period are usually avoided due to potential side effects from the injections and the possibility of masking a problem that needs to be treated differently. Physical therapy may also be recommended by a doctor, or, in very unusual cases, surgery.
Often tendonitis and bursitis are related. Inflammation does not have boundaries, and two closely approximated structures, such as a tendon and bursa, can become inflamed at the same time. That is why the diagnoses “rotator cuff tendonitis” and “shoulder bursitis” are often used interchangeably. They are different problems, but closely related. And most importantly, the treatment of both problems is the same.
If you think you have bursitis, talk to you doctor before starting an exercise program. If you are already exercising, talk to your doctor about what exercises to continue and which to avoid.
For more information about exercise and bursitis, talk to your personal trainer or call Janet Hunt, certified personal trainer at 256-614-3530.
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.
By: Janet Hunt