Bursitis, which most commonly occurs in the elbow, shoulder or hip, is an inflammation of your bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that is between a tendon and the skin, or between a tendon and bone. Bursitis is a condition that can either be acute – temporary and short-term or chronic – long-term and lasting more than 3 months. It is a very painful condition affecting the fluid-filled sacs or pads that cushion your tendons and bones. When they become inflamed, it causes pain due to the lack of cushion. While it is most common in the shoulder, elbow and hip, it can also occur near joints for people who have repetitive motion.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis is caused when the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs near joints between muscles, tendons or bones, are inflamed. These cavities are responsible for padding of the bones and tendons and reduce friction between moving joints. They can get inflamed in a condition called bursitis when there is a trauma, chronic overuse (repetitive motion), gout, infection, or rheumatoid arthritis. The cause of bursitis can also be unknown. Bursitis will most commonly affect the areas in the shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip. The Achilles tendon in the foot can also be affected by bursitis.

Symptoms of Bursitis

There are a variety of symptoms someone with bursitis will experience, most of which are related to pain and discomfort. With bursitis, you might feel joint pain or tenderness when you put pressure on the joint, feel achy and stiff when moving the affected joint, and also see a swelling or redness on the joint as well as the joint feeling warm to the touch.

Treating Bursitis

The first step to treating bursitis is usually a recommendation of immobilization and rest on a temporary basis of the joint. You may also be given anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen which not only reduces some of the inflammation but will also relieve pain. If the inflammation doesn’t go down, they may need to surgically remove fluid from the bursa and inject corticosteroids into the area. Once the pain goes away and inflammation is reduced, exercises can be done, especially in the case of muscle atrophy from the condition. If the bursitis was caused by an infection, you will be given a round of antibiotics.

Complications and Prevention

The main health complication from bursitis is getting chronic bursitis, which can last more than 3 months or it can be a long-term affliction that keeps coming back over and over again. You can also cause injury to surrounding tendons with too many steroid injections in a short period of time. The best way to prevent bursitis is by avoiding repetitive motion injuries and stretching your muscles regularly.

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