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Bursitis – Symptoms and Causes

Bursitis is a condition that starts with pain when the bursae is affected. Bursae is fluid filled sucks which is cushioning muscles, bones and tendons near your joints. When bursae is inflamed, then you are having bursitis. In the most cases this condition is happening on your hip, shoulder and eyebrow. But also there are chances to get this disease in your heel, base of your big toe and knee. Joints which are performing repetitive motion are most willing to get bursitis. In the most cases when you are getting therapy, you are recommended relaxing your joints because if you do some movements or exercises, then you can increase your chances to get serious trauma. When people are affected with bursitis, then they are getting better after few weeks of treatment. But in some cases there can be some symptoms of this disease. If you have this disease, then you should rest the inflamed area and try not to inflame even more. Also you can apply ice on the inflamed area to reduce the swelling. Before you start taking some medicines for bursitis, you should consult with your doctor what is the best treatment for you. [1]

Symptoms of Bursitis

Symptoms: When you are having bursitis, then your affected joint can:

  • Red
  • Looks like swollen
  • Stiff
  • When you are moving, you can feel increased pain
  • Feel achy

Causes: The most known cause for this condition is when you are having repetitive positions or motions which are irritating the area around the bursae which is located around the joints. Here are some examples:

  • Leaning on your elbows for long periods
  • Prolonged sitting which is particularly on hard surfaces
  • Extensive kneeling for tasks such as scrubbing floors or laying carpet
  • Playing a baseball (it means if you throw some heavy over your head constantly in some period)

There are also some other causes for this condition such as:

  • Injury or trauma on the infected area
  • Gout [2]
  • Infection
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Risk factors: There is not right category of people who will have increased chances for this disease. Here are some factors which are increasing the risk of getting this disease:

  • Occupations or hobbies: If you are having hobby which is requiring repetitive motion, then your chances to get bursitis are increasing.
  • Age: As you are getting older, you are increasing your chances to get bursitis [3]
  • Other medical conditions: Gout, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are increasing chances to get this disease. [2]

When to see a doctor? You should visit your doctor if you have:

  • Fever
  • Disabling joint paint
  • Sharp or shooting pain especially when you exert yourself or when you exercise
  • Pain for more than one week
  • Redness, bruising, rash and excessive swelling in the affected area

Your doctor might refer you to rheumatologist which has specialized in joint disorders. You should write about all your symptoms. If you had some medical disorders in the past, you should also tell this to your doctor. Also tell your doctor what kind of diseases your family have/had. You should also tell your doctor if you have taken some medicines or home remedies for treating your condition. Your doctor can ask you some of the next questions:

  • When is the first time when you felt this disease?
  • What is your job?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you have taken some home remedies or medicines for treating your condition?
  • Did you have some diseases in the past?
  • Is there some member of your family which has bursitis?
  • Have you some injury in your near history?
  • Have you fallen recently on some part of your body?

In the most cases doctors just need to see your medical history and to make a physical exam to be sure for your level of bursitis. But in some cases there should be done more exams like:

  • Lab tests: Your doctor will make you blood test. Also he or she will make analysis on fluid from the inflamed bursae. He or she will make these tests to be sure for the reason of your bursae inflammation and what is causing the pain in bursae. [4]
  • Imaging tests: X-ray images are not going tell doctors what is the exact reason for this disease. But they will tell him or her if you have some underlying conditions which can be cause for bursitis. Also if your bursitis can be diagnosed easily, then your doctor will make you MRI or Ultrasound to be sure for the level of your condition. [5]


[1] American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Bursitis a common cause of painful hips, knees, heels and elbows: Most conditions can be managed with simple, nonsurgical techniques. Science Daily. 2011.

[2] Emad Y, Ragab Y, El-Shaarawy N, Rasker JJ. Olecranon bursitis as initial presentation of gout in asymptomatic normouricemic patients. The Egyptian Rheumatologist. 2014;36(1):47-50.

[3] Reid MC, Eccleston C, Pillemer K. Management of chronic pain in older adults. BMJ. 2015;350:h532.

[4] Stanford Health Care. Blood test for bursitis. Retrieved from

[5] Kim SM, Shin MJ, Kim KS, Ahn JW. Imaging features of ischial bursitis with an emphasis on ultrasonography. Skeletal Radiology. 2002;31(11):631-6.

Dr. Emil Sarsath (aka) Vijila, a licensed naturopathic doctor (BSMS) who always ensures his patients receive compassionate, and individualized care. He has extensive experience in primary care, digestive health, mental health, nervous system disorder and more.Area of Expertise – Naturopathic Medicine, Whole Foods-based Nutrition, Siddha, Panchakarma.She is always available through [email protected]


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