What is Bursitis?
Small, fluid-filled sacs called Bursae help to cushion the bones near every joint in the body. When excessive wear and tear cause these Bursae to inflame, Physicians call this “Bursitis“. Bursae tend to inflame around the major joints: Shoulders, Hips, Elbows, and Knees. While painful, most cases of Bursitis will heal on their own if treated with a combination of rest, ice, and pain-relieving medication. If the Bursae pain still remains, Physicians may recommend Physical Therapy or Steroid Injections to relieve the inflammation.
Symptoms of Bursitis
If you suffer from bursitis, your joint may:
- Feel stiff or achy
- Hurt when moved or under pressure
- Look red and inflamed.
Consult your doctor if you have:
- debilitating joint pain
- Sudden loss of joint motion
- Excessive inflammation, redness, or a rash in the affected joint
- Shooting pain, especially when exercising
What Causes Bursitis?
Common causes of bursitis include repetitive motions that put pressure on the bursae in a joint. Such as:
- Throwing a ball or repeatedly lifting objects over your head.
- Putting weight on your elbows for long periods of time.
- Excessive kneeling for tasks such as working on floors
Other cases may include injury or trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and infection.
How Do I Prevent Bursitis?
While not everyone can prevent bursitis, you can reduce the risk and the severity of flare-ups by changing the way you perform certain tasks:
- Using knee pads when performing tasks that require kneeling.
- Lifting weight with your legs. Failing to do so puts stress on the hip bursae.
- Using a dolly or cart to move heavy loads.
- Taking frequent breaks.
- Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising.
- Warming up and stretching before tough activities.
Treatment for Bursitis
Treatment for bursitis aims to reduce pain, inflammation, and improve mobility. Here are some common treatment approaches:
- Rest and Avoiding Irritating Activities: Give the affected area time to heal by avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain or inflammation.
- Ice Therapy: Applying ice to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and inflammation. Be sure to place a cloth or towel between the ice and your skin to prevent frostbite.
- Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion around the affected joint. They can also teach you proper body mechanics to avoid exacerbating the condition.
- Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Specific exercises can help improve the flexibility and strength of muscles surrounding the affected joint, reducing strain on the bursa.
- Moist Heat: Applying moist heat (warm, damp towels) to the area can help relax muscles and relieve pain. Heat is usually used after the initial acute phase has passed.
- Assistive Devices: The use of braces, splints, or other assistive devices can help reduce strain on the affected area during movement.
- Corticosteroid Injections: In cases where the pain is severe or not responding to conservative treatments, a doctor might administer corticosteroid injections directly into the bursa to reduce inflammation and pain. However, repeated corticosteroid injections should be avoided due to potential side effects.
- Ultrasound or Physical Modalities: Some physical therapy clinics use techniques like ultrasound or other modalities to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Fluid Aspiration: In some cases, a doctor might remove excess fluid from the inflamed bursa to alleviate pain and pressure.
- Activity Modification: Adjusting your daily activities or work routines to avoid movements that worsen the condition can promote healing.
- Surgery: In very rare cases where other treatments have failed, surgical removal of the inflamed bursa might be considered.
It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your specific condition. Bursitis can sometimes mimic other conditions, like tendonitis or arthritis, so getting a proper diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment.
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