The condition known as bursitis occurs when the fluid-filled sacs, or bursae, located between a tendon and skin or between a tendon and bone, become inflamed. It can cause pain and tenderness in the area, and it can make movement very difficult. Below, we address some of the frequently asked questions about bursitis.
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, which are the fluid-filled sacs that serve as cushions between the bones and soft tissue. Normally, the bursae provide a slippery surface between the bones and layers of soft tissue with almost no friction. When the bursae become inflamed, they lose their gliding capabilities and become more irritated as they move.
What causes bursitis?
The condition typically results from repetitive movement or from prolonged and excessive pressure on the joint. For example, patients who rest on their elbows for long periods of time or those who bend their elbows frequently and repetitively can develop elbow bursitis. Bursitis is also common in the shoulder, hip, and knee.
What are the symptoms of bursitis?
Pain and tenderness in the area of the affected bursae and joint are the primary symptoms of bursitis. If the bursa sacs swell, it can result in limited range of motion of the affected joint.
How is bursitis treated?
Most specialists will begin treatment of bursitis with conservative options, such as the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). You might also receive a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Stretching and strengthening the area is also advised. Your doctor may decide to take a more advanced treatment approach with corticosteroid injections if the other conservative options are not providing satisfactory results.