Bursitis

BURSITIS knee

Last Updated February 20th, 2019

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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Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
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…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Beware of these common foods that cause high bodily inflammation! Maybe its the long list of inflammatory foods in your diet that is making you frequently sick. Find…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
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…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
bradycardia fainting
What does hypoglycemia look like when you don’t have diabetes? Hypoglycemia is not just a disease that co-occurs with diabetes. Non-diabetics could also become hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia can be…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…