Bursae is the name of pads that are filled with fluid to function as cushioning pads for the bones and tendons. Bursitis is the condition wherein bursae develop inflammation. Bursae is present all over the body but most commonly bursitis develops in shoulder, elbow and hip joint. Some people may develop bursitis on the heel, knee and basal toe. Bursitis affects the normal movement of the joints. This condition can be treated by effective medications but it can recur after some weeks.
Pain is the major symptom of bursitis. The affected joint of the shoulder or elbow will develop intense pain suddenly making the movement difficult. The pain can become severe if you try to move the joint or apply pressure on it. The affected area can look tender and swollen.
Certain type of repeated movements of the bursea can cause intense pain. If you are a sports person involved in playing throw ball or your daily work involves lifting of heavy objects, then you are likely to develop bursitis. Some people may develop inflammation on bursea when they are leaning on the elbows for extended duration. People engaged in extended kneeling for laying carpets and people who are sitting in wrong position on hard surface for long time may develop bursitis.
Overuse of joints at the same point can affect the bursea leading to inflammation. High risk activities like gardening, carpentry or painting for extended time can affect the bursea. The tendency of developing bursitis increases with age and a person with chronic medical issues like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes is likely to develop bursitis.
Your doctor will complete the physical exam and may order for lab tests like blood profile and imaging tests like X-ray of the affected bone to confirm the diagnosis.
Bursitis does not need any treatment unless it is severe. You need to take complete rest or take painkillers to get relief from severe pain. In case if the inflammation of bursea is caused by bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. You need to do physiotherapy for strengthening the affected muscles and to reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, steroid injection is given directly on the affected joint to get immediate relief from pain. In rare cases, surgical drainage is done on the affected bursa.
You can try the following home remedies before visiting your GP :
- Apply ice on the affected joint for several times a day.
- Give complete rest to the joint to reduce swelling.
- Over the counter medications like Ibuprofen or naproxen can give you instant relief from pain.
- If your knee joint is affected you can place a pillow between the legs to avoid friction.
- Do not bend overly for lifting objects since it can affect your joints.