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APM Spine & Sports Physicians


What is Bursitis?

It is the inflammation of a lubricating sac around a joint tendon or ligament.

What is a Bursa?

It is a small sac that contains a small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricating structure between tendons, ligaments and bones. They are often overlying joints or other moving parts. It forms a gliding surface that reduces friction between tissues in the body. There are over 160 bursae located throughout the body, but the larger are the most commonly affected.

What are the symptoms of Bursitis?

The most common symptom is pain at the site of the bursa and beyond. The pain may be a gradual buildup or sudden and severe. Pain symptoms are often worse with pressure on the region such as lying on it at night as well as with activity.

How does a Bursitis occur?

The bursa can become inflamed by a

  • Group of muscles or tendons rubbing over the bursa causing friction
  • Traumatic injury
  • An underlying rheumatic condition
  • Infection

Who usually gets Bursitis?

Bursitis is more common in adults, especially in those over 40 years of age.

What joints are affected most by Bursitis?

  • Elbow
    • Olecranon Bursitis
  • Shoulder
    • Subdeltoid Bursitis
    • Subacromial Bursitis
  • Hip
  • Knee
    • Pre-Patellar Bursitis
    • Infra-Patellar Bursitis
  • Ankle
    • Retrocalcaneal Bursitis
    • Calcaneal Bursitis

How is bursitis diagnosed?

Your APM physician will do a thorough evaluation, ask about your symptoms and examine the affected region.

Bursitis is typically identified by:

  • Localized pain or swelling
  • Tenderness, and pain with motion of the tissues in the affected area

How is bursitis treated?

  • Treatment of non-infectious bursitis includes:
  • Avoiding activities that aggravate the problem.
  • If the condition does not improve in about a week, seek medical help.
  • Placing ice packs over the affected area for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours, for 2-3 days, or until the pain goes away.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by your physician.
    • Corticosteroids, also known as “steroids,” can be injected to decrease the inflammation and pain.
    • Steroids can also be injected directly at the site of injury.
    • For recurrent cases, it is not safe to administer steroids too frequently.
    • Most injections are performed in your physician’s office with no guidance. But at APM, the injections to the bursa may also be done more accurately using state of the art techniques to include:
    • Physical therapy for release of soft tissue restrictions, flexibility and strengthening exercises and postural retraining.
    • Consult your doctor immediately if you have:
      • Fever (over 100 Fahrenheit)
      • Swelling, redness, and warmth at or around the joint
      • General illness or multiple sites of pain
      • Inability to move the affected area

Should I modify my activity during treatment?

Modification of your activity is recommended during recovery so that the condition is not worsened.

When can regular activity be resumed?

The return to regular activity will vary depending on the level of injury and the type of activity that is being resumed. It is good to assume that the longer the symptoms have been present, then the longer it will take for the area to heal.

How is bursitis prevented?

Improved body mechanics may be helpful.Improved body mechanics may be helpful.