What is Bursitis?

The bursa is a small sac of fluid in the joint space that provides a cushion so that bones, muscles and tendons do not rub together and produce friction. When this sac of fluid is irritated, it is called bursitis as the bursa swells and becomes inflamed. Bursitis is most common in the shoulder, elbow and hip joints; however, it can occur in the knee, Achilles tendon and at the base of the big toe.

If you are experiencing pain in your joint that is limiting your activities, then you are not alone. At Orthopedic Centers of America, we have helped over 30,000 patients find relief from pain, and we want to help you! Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak with a patient coordinator who can direct you to an orthopedic specialist with the experience and advanced training to address your pain. The call is free, and you will be glad you took the first step towards pain relief.


Causes of Bursitis

There are many causes of bursitis, but the most common cause is the result of repetitive movements. Adults 40 years old and over are more prone to bursitis because as a person ages, the tendons in the joint space become less elastic and, therefore, do not stretch as easily when a movement is forced upon the joint.

  • Sudden, serious injury
  • Overuse of the joint
  • Repetitive minor impact to the joint
  • Age
  • Poor stretching or warm-up conditioning before exercise
  • An abnormal bone or joint structure putting pressure on the bursa
  • Inflammation from autoimmune conditions
  • Side effect from certain medications
  • Kneeling or leaning on elbows for a long


Causes for Bursitis in the Shoulder

  • Throwing a ball repeatedly
  • Lifting objects overhead
  • Injury of the shoulder from a fall
  • Often paired with tendonitis when the tendons adjacent to the bursa are inflamed and pain is felt when the elbow is moved away from the body


Causes for Hip Bursitis

  • Spine problems such as scoliosis
  • Bone spurs on hip
  • Infection in the hip (rare)


Symptoms of Bursitis

If you suspect that the pain in your joint is bursitis, then there are several options an orthopedic specialist can give you to find pain relief. If the bursitis goes away only to return later, then you are at risk for having chronic bursitis. This is caused when the bursa thickens and causes swelling and limited movement. Then the muscles weaken, and the joint may become “frozen”. Common symptoms of bursitis include:

  • Pain – either the pain will build gradually or you may have sudden and severe pain
  • Achy joint or stiffness
  • Hurts more when you press on it or move it
  • May look swollen or red
  • Frozen shoulder – can cause severe loss


When to see a Doctor

If your joint pain causes you to change your routine or does not allow you to participate in your normal daily activities, then you need to see a doctor. If there is excessive swelling, redness or bruising, then you should have your joint diagnosed by a highly-trained orthopedic specialist.


Non-Surgical Treatment for Bursitis

Bursitis may be prevented by avoiding repetitive motions, taking rest breaks, stretching and warming the muscles before exercise, performing strength building exercises and losing weight.

However, if you are already experiencing pain, we can help. At Orthopedic Centers of America, our board-certified physicians can diagnose your joint and create a customized treatment plan to give you pain relief. Our physicians are not involved in prescribing narcotics for pain. Instead, they address the underlying cause to help you find lasting relief. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak with a patient coordinator who can help you today.

If you are diagnosed with bursitis in a joint, there are several non-surgical treatments that may relieve that pain.

  • Rest – avoid activities that irritate the joint, allowing the injured area to rest
  • Ice – the day of an injury, ice should be applied to minimize swelling
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – are over the counter medicines, such as ibuprophen, that can be taken to minimize pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy – exercises to strengthen the muscles and increase flexibility may be prescribed. If the shoulder, or another joint, is “frozen”, then physical therapy can significantly help and possibly make surgery unnecessary.
  • Injections – Cortisone injections are sometimes used to minimize the inflammation and give relief from the pain.
  • Aspiration of fluid – In some instances, the doctor may remove the excess fluid from the bursa to give pain relief


Surgical Treatment for Bursitis

While surgery is not always necessary for bursitis, sometimes a minimally-invasive surgery is the best solution. In these cases, the orthopedic specialist will remove the bursa from the joint. Because the surgery is done arthroscopically, with tiny incisions, the tissue is not traumatized, and the recovery is faster. The surgical procedure is not usually a long procedure and may be done as an outpatient.



Physical therapy exercises will improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles of the joint after a surgical procedure. The exercises will be personalized for your specific case and may be continued at home.

At Orthopedic Centers of America, we want to help you find pain relief and get started on the road to recovery. Our network of board-certified, orthopedic specialists has the advanced training and experience you can trust to develop a personalized plan for you to get back to activities you love. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak with a patient representative and get help today! The free call may be the best call you make!

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