What is bursitis? It’s the inflammation of the bursa that commonly affects people in their 40s. Not all of us have heard of this condition though. And, if this is something we need to avoid, then the more we need to know about what is bursitis. Here, we’ll discuss what this is about and answer some of the frequently asked questions.
What Is Bursitis? | Description and FAQs
Bursa and Bursitis Definition
Bursitis deals with the unhealthy condition of the bursa. A bursa is a thin-layered sac located at the points of friction between the bone and the surrounding soft tissues like tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin. The bursae are like tiny water balloons between these points. They serve as lubricants in these areas, so that rubbing between the bones and the surrounding soft tissues won’t hurt. If bursitis develops, these bursae swell and cause irritation.
What Causes Bursitis?
- Injury. One reason for bursitis is injury. Bursitis usually occurs in the elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, and Achilles tendon. If these parts of the body are seriously injured, or experience repetitive minor impacts, bursitis may be triggered.
- Aging. Another cause of bursitis is aging. As we age, our tendons weaken, develop a lower tolerance for stress, and are less elastic. When this happens, the pressure from our movements will be concentrated on our bursae, which can lead to inflammation.
- Joint Overuse and Incorrect Posture. Daily activities that stress joints increase the risk of bursitis. These activities involve jobs like carpentry, gardening, and raking, or sports such as tennis, skiing, and golfing. Repetitive incorrect posture at work or while working out is also another trigger for developing bursitis.
- Infection and Other Illnesses. When bacteria enter the bursa because of injury, an infection can develop. The infected bursa creates fluid that leads to swelling, which is also know as bursitis. If left untreated, the fluid may turn to pus. Illnesses that cause stress or inflammation can also trigger bursitis. Conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis create swelling in the areas where bursitis can also develop.
What Are the Symptoms of Bursitis?
Bursitis symptoms include redness and swelling, aching (also when moved or lightly pressed), and stiffness. But, the person may experience more complicated symptoms like fever, sharp pain when force is applied to the affected area, excessive swelling and redness, and a sudden inability to move the affected area. Immediately consult a physician if any of these occurs.
What Are the Treatments for Bursitis?
Medication is one of the most common ways to treat bursitis. If the cause of inflammation is an infection, the patient will most likely have to take prescribed antibiotics. Physical therapy and exercise are also another remedy, which both help strengthen the muscles around the affected area. This can aid in relieving physical discomfort and prevent recurrence.
For a quick relief of aches and inflammation, a corticosteroid injection into the bursa is recommended. One shot is generally considered enough. For support, a walking cane is helpful if the affected areas include the knee or Achilles tendon. This aids in reducing pressure on these areas. Lastly, and rarely, removing the affected bursa through surgery might be needed.
Home remedies are also a good option to treat bursitis. To reduce swelling, a cold compress application within the first 48 hours after the inflammation is suggested. Over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium also helps relieve aches and inflammation.
What Are the Ways on How to Prevent Bursitis?
Not all types of bursitis can be avoided, but there are ways to reduce the risks and severity of this condition. First, during exercise, always stretch and warm up to protect the joints from the intensity of training. Regular exercise is also advisable, as it strengthens the muscles that help protect the joints.
Maintain a healthy weight as well, because being overweight can also trigger bursitis. The extra weight adds more pressure to the bursae. Breaks between sets while working out are also important because they allows the joints and muscles to relax.
When carrying heavy loads, use tools that help carry them, like a wheeled cart to avoid putting stress on the shoulders’ bursae. Also make sure that you are bending and lifting with your knees when lifting, or else you will be placing unnecessary stress on the hips’ bursae. Lastly, if the work requires a lot of kneeling, use kneeling pads to lessen the pressure on your knees.
Watch these top 3 exercises and stretches for shoulder bursitis from Physical Therapy Video:
Understanding what bursitis is, its causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention, give you the advantage of what to expect in case this happens. It also allows you to try immediate home remedies to prevent further complications. Just remember to always avoid the things that can trigger bursitis to enjoy an ache-free life.
What other home remedies to relieve joint aches caused by bursitis do you know? Share them in the comments section.