Bursitis occurs when the bursa, a synovial-fluid-filled sac is inflamed. Though slippery and tiny, the bursa has a big job. It acts as a cushion and allows the bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles to work together without friction. When these tiny water-balloon-like sacs become inflamed and swell, movement is painful.

What causes bursitis?

Many cases of bursitis in the joints result from repeated movement of the joint. It is a type of overuse injury.

But overuse injury is only one cause of bursitis.

Age, arthritis, gout, injury, or surgery are other factors. Being overweight also applies more pressure to the bursa.

Bursitis can occur in any joint, tendon, or ligament. It is common in the ankles, hips, elbows, knees, and kneecaps.

What are the symptoms of bursitis?

The most obvious symptoms of the condition include pain and loss of motion. The pain can be sharp and piercing or dull and achy. Pain may increase during movement. The joint may be sensitive to touch.

A person with inflamed bursa may also notice warmth and swelling near the affected joint.

How is bursitis treated?

The first treatment for bursitis is rest. Over-the-counter medications can help reduce inflammation. If rest doesn’t stop the symptoms, visit an orthopedic provider.

Other medical treatments may include:

  • Massage therapy to increase blood flow to speed healing
  • Physical therapy to preserve range-of-motion
  • Intervention to drain the fluid using a needle or surgery
  • Cortisone injections to reduce pain and inflammation

Left untreated, bursitis can thicken the bursa permanently, which can lead to chronic pain and loss of movement.

The bursa may become infected. In this case, the provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a rupture and the spread of infection.

If you experience joint pain, contact Bone & Joint to see an orthopedic specialist.