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Tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or jumper’s knee are all other names for bursitis around a joint. Proper diagnosis can help you get the treatment that you need to recover so you can get back to your active life.

What is Bursitis?

A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that is found between a bone and moving parts like tendons, muscles, or skin. They act as cushions, allowing every part to move smoothly. When someone develops bursitis, they experience pain and inflammation in the area.

Bursitis can develop in many parts of the body that include the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and hips. It is more common in older adults and can be the result of either acute trauma or a repetitive stress injury.

What Causes Bursitis?

Bursitis is often caused by repetitive motions, minor impacts to the affected area, or an acute injury. Bursitis is most common in adults over 40. This is because tendons become less elastic and less resistant to stress as they age. Examples of activities that can lead to bursitis include:

• Gardening
• Skiing
• Tennis
• Scrubbing floors or pots and pans
• Painting
• Shoveling
• Throwing or pitching
• Operating a computer

People who have spinal diseases like arthritis and scoliosis are at higher risk for bursitis. It is also more common in people who have legs of unequal length or who have had surgery around the affected area. Poor posture and incorrect stretching can also put stress on the bursa that can lead to bursitis.

Symptoms of Bursitis

Bursitis symptoms include pain and swelling around the affected area. The pain may build up over time or come on suddenly. Sudden and severe pain is most common when calcium deposits are present around the bursa. In some instances, you will experience a severe loss of motion around the affected area, known as adhesive capsulitis. When this happens in the shoulder, it is referred to as “frozen shoulder.”

Diagnosing Bursitis

To determine if you are suffering from bursitis, we start with a physical exam. We will look for signs of tenderness in the affected area and test your mobility.
Tests like bone scanning, MRIs, and X-rays can be used to rule out other painful problems that can cause pain similar to the pain of bursitis.

Bursitis Treatment

The first-line treatment for bursitis is rest. When healing from a bout of bursitis, it is important to avoid the activities that bring on worse symptoms. Other treatments can include any of the following:

• Assistive devices like canes or crutches can help you keep your weight off a hip, knee, or ankle with bursitis.
• NSAIDs can both relieve pain and control inflammation. These are available over-the-counter or may be prescribed to help with your condition.
• Ice therapy can be helpful on the day of injury. It can cut down on swelling and numb the area around the injury.
• Injections of steroids, used in conjunction with a local anesthesia, can help reduce inflammation and pain. These injections may provide relief that lasts for several months or can provide permanent relief from bursitis.
• Joint aspiration can be used if excess fluid is causing painful pressure in the area.
• Physical therapy can help stretch and strengthen the affected area so that you are able to avoid reinjury in the future.
• Antibiotics may be used if there is infection present in the bursa. The type of antibiotics will depend on what microorganism is involved and how serious the infection is.

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