What Is Bursitis?
Do you work in a physically demanding field, such as construction or landscaping? Do you work in a warehouse or on an assembly line? Do you participate in sports that involve repetitive motion? If so, you may experience pain from a condition called bursitis.
Bursitis occurs when bursae – little fluid filled sacs that cushion an area of friction between tissues (such as tendon and bone) – become inflamed. This inflammation, or swelling, makes it difficult, and often painful, to move parts of the body like the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and/or heel.
If you work at a job or engage in activities, such as baseball or bowling, that require repetitive motion, the ongoing stress on your joints can make you more susceptible to bursitis.
Common Causes of Bursitis
Common causes of bursitis include:
- Repetitive injuries – throwing a baseball, lifting boxes
- Direct impact injuries – falls, banging your knee into a table
- Pre-existing rheumatoid conditions – rheumatoid arthritis, gout
Commonly Affected Joints
Bursitis is often found in the following joints:
- Shoulder – Bursitis in the shoulder is commonly seen after rotator cuff injuries. The patient will experience sharp pain in the side or front of the shoulder. This makes overhead reaching or lifting very uncomfortable. The pain is often worse at night when sleeping on the affected shoulder.
- Knee – Kneecap swelling and bursitis can be caused by consistent kneeling or even a single blow to the knee. If a patient has suffered a fall, the swelling could last up to seven to ten days. This type of bursitis is often seen in people with arthritis. The pain can even spread to the inner thigh or mid-calf, and it may intensify when going up stairs.
- Hip – Hip bursitis is also common, with pain that can spread to the buttocks or down the leg to the knee. It is caused by aggravated activity and is often worse at night – making it difficult to sleep on the affected side.
To know if your pain and discomfort is bursitis, consult with a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Treatment for bursitis may include relative rest of the affected area. To reduce swelling and alleviate pain, apply a bag of ice or frozen vegetables to the area for ten minutes (twice a day).