Bursitis

BURSITIS knee

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

The movement of joints is complex and is made possible by cooperation and coordination between multiple structures including bones, muscles, tendons, cartilages, ligaments, and bursae. The bursae are thin fluid-filled sacs whose function is to lubricate and ease the interfaces between bones and other tissues such as tendons or skin.

Bursitis is a painful condition that results when the synovial fluid or lubricant within the bursa becomes inflamed, causing pain and hampering normal movement. Professional athletes or sportsmen can be prone to developing this condition because they engage in intense and repetitive patterns of movement over extended periods of time, leading to overuse or injury of certain joints. Colloquial expressions for bursitis, such as ‘housemaid’s knee’ or ‘weaver’s bottom’, refer to precisely this kind of recurring stress or injury which is typical of certain occupations or activities.

 

What Is Bursitis?

BURSITIS elbowBursitis is the inflammation of the synovial fluid contained within the bursae, generally resulting in localized pain, swelling and redness. This may or may not involve an infection. Calcific bursitis describes the condition wherein calcium deposits are also present within the inflamed bursa. Some bursae are located just below the skin while others are more deep-seated. Inflammation is found to occur more often in the superficial ones.

Bursitis typically involves the thickening of the synovial membrane of the bursa causing it to produce an excess of fluid and become abnormally enlarged. Bursitis is generally localized and confined to a shoulder, elbow, knee or heel, areas that tend to receive extensive use and stress. It can also occur as the result of an injury. This condition can subside and flare up intermittently especially when old injuries are repeatedly aggravated.

 

Causes of Bursitis

The causes of bursitis range from age-related degeneration to chronic overuse, injury, pre-existing inflammatory disorders or reaction to medications.

  • Overuse of a certain joint causes excess friction, stress and repeated irritation which can lead to local inflammation of the bursa. Sitting or leaning on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time or repeatedly performing certain bending or kicking motions are some examples.
  • Trauma is another possible cause.
  • Intense exercise or sudden stress. This can also occur when the body is inadequately conditioned before undertaking physical activities or exercise.
  • The weakening of the joint apparatus with age.
  • Taking chemotherapy.
  • Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, gout and thyroid disorders can increase the risk of developing bursitis.
  • Compromised immunity. Having a disease like HIV/AIDS or taking immunosuppressants for organ transplantation can increase the risk of developing an infection in the bursae.
  • Being overweight or obese as this puts increased pressure on weight-bearing joints.

 

Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of bursitis is pain which can range from mild to severe. Since it occurs often in the superficially located bursae, this condition produces clearly noticeable swellings in the affected area.

  • Swelling and tenderness.
  • Localised reddening of the skin.
  • A localized increase in temperature.
  • Bruising.
  • Fever.

 

Types of Bursitis

bursitis diagramThere are two main types of bursitis:

  • Aseptic Bursitis: In this condition, the synovial fluid within the bursa becomes inflamed, causing the sac to swell abnormally.
  • Septic Bursitis: Here, inflammation is accompanied by an infection. This occurs when bacteria or other microbes enter through breaks and cuts in the skin and then proceed to invade the bursa. The bacteria can also spread to the bursa from infected tissues or organs nearby. Septic bursitis typically affects individuals with weakened immunity such as those with diseases like HIV/AIDS or recipients of organ transplants. Fever or chills may be noticed. Since the condition is normally localized, it is identified by the name of the specific bursa that is affected. Thus, for instance ‘prepatellar bursitis’ pertains to inflammation of the prepatellar bursa located in the front of the knee. ‘Pes anserine bursitis’ involves the bursa located on the inner side of the knee.

 

Bursitis Complications

The main complication of bursitis involves impairment in mobility. Severe pain can completely limit movement and conditions such as ‘frozen shoulder’ can manifest. A patient may experience recurrent flare-ups in a certain area if he or she continues to engage in activities that aggravate this condition.

Sometimes, an excess of fluid can accumulate in the bursa and this may need to be removed by means of aspiration in order to relieve the pressure and pain. Treatment for aseptic bursitis is usually symptomatic and if the condition does not respond well or occurs repeatedly, then surgical removal of the affected bursa may be resorted to. Post surgery a new and healthy bursa grows back in place of the one that was removed.

 

Diagnosing Bursitis

BURSITIS kneeBased on the clinical presentation of localised swelling in the joints as well as pain, diagnosing bursitis is a fairly straightforward matter. This also makes it easy to self-diagnose initially. A physical examination is typically followed by an X-ray to rule out bone abnormalities such as calcified spurs.

In case of an infection, it may be relevant to check the patient’s medical history for procedures such as organ transplants or conditions like HIV/AIDS. A blood test may be required in order to identify diabetes, thyroid disorder or HIV/AIDS if present. Testing a sample of the inflamed synovial fluid obtained by means of aspiration helps to ascertain whether an infection is involved. It also helps detect crystals that might be attributed to diseases such as gout.

 

Treatment & Prevention

The treatment of bursitis follows these methods:

  • Initially, for mild to moderate pain OTC painkillers can be taken. Applying ice-packs will also help in reducing inflammation of the joints.
  • For more severe pain, corticosteroid injections are administered at the site of pain. In many cases, the liquid from the swollen joints might be extracted to relieve the pressure on the joints.
  • Physiotherapy is also proven to be beneficial.

In order to prevent bursitis, one must follow these basic precautionary measures:

  • Always remember to warm up before starting any exercise routine. Similarly, don’t forget to cool down.
  • Avoid repetitive activities.
  • Make sure that you rest your body after playing intense/ high impact sports.
  • Provide cushioning to your joints to avoid trauma and inflammation of the joints.

Facts

  • Bursitis is commonly caused by repetitive movement and hence has many names depending on the area affected by certain occupations – weaver’s bottom, clergyman’s knee, housemaid’s knee, and miner’s elbow.
  • The human body contains more than 150 bursae (padded sack-like structures found in the joint areas where friction is more).

Facts

  • A newborn baby has fewer bursae as compared to a 7 year old child. Bursae develop in the body as a result of increased physical movements and activities.
  • Some common forms of tendinitis (tenderness just outside a joint) are mostly diagnosed in sportsmen and athletes and are named accordingly – tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, and jumper’s knee.

Facts

  • As high as 10% of runners experience bursitis. Bursitis represents only 0.4% of all primary- care clinic visits.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • For mild to moderate cases of bursitis pain, over-the-counter painkillers (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen) can be taken.
  • Wear protective gears meant for contact sports.
  • Maintain ideal body weight that doesn’t put excessive pressure on the joints.
  • Also, spread out your physical activities uniformly across the week, instead of working out excessively once or twice a week.
Don'ts
  • Push through the pain and continue physical activities. Give your body time to heal and recover.
  • Indulge in activities that require repeated movements such as running or swimming.
  • Immediately return to normal lifestyle and routine once the bursitis is treated. Gradually ease yourself into physical activities.

 

 

 

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5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…