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Bursitis / Inflammation of the Bursa

Last Updated on Aug 16, 2014
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Bursitis is the inflammation of bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac located between tendons or muscles and bones close to joints. Bursae help to alleviate friction between these tissues and bones during movement at the joint.


Bursitis mostly affects the bursae located at the elbows, shoulders, knees, hip and Achilles tendon. Bursitis commonly occurs in adults over 40 years.


The causes of bursitis include repetitive impact in the region or a sudden injury. Injury to a joint or its overuse at work or play, incorrect posture while at work, or play or poor warm-up before exercising can predispose a person to bursitis. Age can also be a causative factor, as ageing tendons being less elastic and are more prone to tear. Besides this, an unusual medical reaction too has the potential to trigger bursitis.

In addition to all the above factors, there are some others too that are capable of inflaming the bursa and they include inflammation caused by other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders gout or an infection.


The most common among bursitis symptoms is the pain that builds up in the affected area. The pain may be sudden and severe especially if it involves the presence of calcium deposits or, it may be gradual, eventually reaching a crescendo. The severe loss of motion in the shoulders during bursitis may occur due to “adhesive capsulitis,” (frozen shoulders) or it may be due to excessive pain.

Treatment & Prevention

Bursitis treatment is at first managed by resting and applying ice packs on the injured area. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines may also be taken. During the resting phase, care must be taken to avoid activities to aggravate the problem. If the problem does not subside, make sure you consult your doctor.

Anti-inflammatory drugs especially corticosteroids are commonly used to quickly reduce pain and inflammation. Injections may also be given at the site of injury but this treatment cannot be prolonged due to the adverse effects of steroids.


Besides, the administration of steroids can cause the masking of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed differently. The patient might require physical therapy, range-of-motion exercises or even splinting. In some rare cases surgery too might be required.


It is important to warm up and gradually build up force before exercising. If any unusual pain occurs, it is better to discontinue exercising.

Please consult the doctor in case of the following problems as they could indicate other problems, which possibly require immediate attention-

  • Fever above 102 degree Fahrenheit
  • Redness, swelling or warmth
  • Difficulty in moving the affected area
  • Multiple areas of pain
  • Overall discomfort

Latest Publications and Research on Bursitis

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Dr. Santhosh Babu M R
Dr. Santhosh Babu M R
MBBS, DPhysMed
37 years experience
Apollo Sugar Clinic, Patturaikkal, Thrissur
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