Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the bursa, a small sac of fluid that works to cushion and lubricate those areas where the tendons, skin, muscles, ligaments and bones rub against each other. The primary purpose of the bursa is to reduce friction between these parts of the body. There are about 160 bursae in the body. The major ones are located near the large joints such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. People who do repeated movement or who constantly put pressure on the joints due to sports, work, or daily activities are at great risk of bursitis.
What Causes Bursitis?
- repeated and overused motions
The most common cause of bursitis is repeated and overused motions. Using tools, cleaning, cooking, typing and gardening are some activities that may bring about bursitis. Long periods of putting pressure on the area may also cause this condition. Those who work as roofers, gardeners, and carpet layers for example are likely to develop this condition over the kneecap because they are on their knees all day.
Aging may also play a role since the bursa breaks down over time.
Another cause is a sudden injury such as trauma to the elbow.
- medical problems
Finally, it can be caused by other medical problems like arthritis and septic bursitis (bursitis through infection)
What Are its Symptoms and Signs?
Symptoms of this condition depend on the degree of inflammation in the bursa. The inflamed area can bring pain and tenderness. If the swelling continues, it can also cause stiffness, redness, and warmth. The pain can make it difficult to support the body pressure. For example, if you have bursitis in your hip, it would be painful to lie on the affected side. If your symptoms become severe or if you have fever, it's a must to contact your doctor.
How is this Diagnosed?
This condition can be identified if there is localized pain or swelling, tenderness, and pain when moving the tissues in the inflamed area. Sometimes, an X-ray may be performed to detect if there are any calcifications in the bursa.
Before advising any form of treatment, the doctor will first see if the bursitis is infected or not.
Treating Non-Infected Burstitis
If not, the doctor will recommend home care treatment that includes ice compression, rest, and medication for pain and inflammation. The affected area must be rested thoroughly. It's important to avoid applying direct pressure or engaging in strenuous activity. Apply ice or cold packs on the affected muscles or joint. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes every hour for three days.
- pain relievers
Pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be taken to reduce inflammation.
It would also help to engage in range-of-motion exercises each day to prevent stiffness.
- no smoking
Moreover, avoid tobacco smoke as this delays healing of the wound and tissue.
- physical therapy
Sometimes, physical therapy is suggested by the doctor to strengthen the muscles around the joints.
Usually, these are enough to reduce the pain and heal the inflamed but non-infected bursa.
Treating Infected Burstitis
For infected bursitis, antibiotic therapy may be required. This may be taken intravenously.
Repeated draining of the infected fluid will also be ordered by the doctor.
Other treatment methods include surgical drainage and removal of infected bursa sac through bursectomy.