Understanding Bursitis: A Comprehensive Guide

Bursitis is a common medical condition characterized by inflammation and swelling in the bursae, the small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues in your joints. This condition primarily affects the joints in your shoulders, elbows, and hips. However, it can also occur in the knees, heel, and the base of your big toe, especially in athletes and elderly people.


The human body contains about 160 bursae. Their primary role is to reduce friction and provide cushioning during movement. When one or more bursae become inflamed, the result is a condition known as bursitis. Inflammation of the bursae leads to discomfort and pain that exacerbates with movement or pressure on the affected area.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis is typically caused by repetitive, minor impact on the area, or due to a sudden, more serious injury. Age also plays a significant role in the development of this condition as tendons age they can tolerate stress less, become less elastic, and are easier to tear.

Other causes include:

Overuse or strenuous activity:

This can occur from activities such as gardening, raking, cleaning, tennis, golf, skiing, and throwing or pitching.

Incorrect postures:

Sitting or standing improperly for long periods can cause bursitis, especially in the shoulder or hip areas.

Other diseases or conditions:

These include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disease, or diabetes.

Symptoms of Bursitis

The common symptoms of bursitis include:

- Feelings of pain and tenderness in the joint, particularly if you apply pressure to it or move it.

- Swelling and redness in the affected area.

- Sharp pain during the initial inflammation.

- Stiffness or aching when moving the affected joint.

- Increased pain with movement or pressure.

Diagnosis of Bursitis

A diagnosis of bursitis begins with a detailed physical examination and a review of the patient's medical history. The doctor will look for signs of inflammation and tenderness around the joint. Diagnostic tests may include:

- X-rays: These images can help rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a fracture.

- Blood tests: These can help identify an underlying condition like rheumatoid arthritis.

- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test can give a detailed image of the bursa and surrounding tissues.

- Aspiration: In some cases, a needle may be inserted into the bursa to draw out fluid for testing.

Precautions for Bursitis

Some precautions can help prevent bursitis or keep the symptoms from worsening:

- Avoid repetitive activities and high-impact physical tasks.

- Use kneepads if you have to kneel for an extended period.

- Maintain a healthy weight.

- Exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong and flexible.

- Warm-up your body before strenuous activity.

Treatment of Bursitis in India's Top Hospitals

In India's top hospitals, bursitis is treated comprehensively, aiming to alleviate pain, inflammation and restore normal function.

Initial treatment typically includes:

Rest and Immobilization:

Avoiding activities that worsen symptoms can help reduce inflammation.

Pain and Anti-inflammatory Medications:

Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Physical Therapy:

Specific exercises can improve flexibility and strength, reducing the likelihood of recurrent bursitis.

If these non-surgical treatments don’t provide enough relief, other treatments may be recommended:

Steroid Injections:

Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.


In severe cases, the inflamed bursa may need to be surgically drained. In some instances, the bursa may even need to be removed.


In conclusion, bursitis is a manageable condition, especially when diagnosed early and treated correctly. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking precautions while performing repetitive tasks can significantly lower the risk of developing bursitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, in many cases, rest, over-the-counter pain relief, and simple home remedies can help bursitis to clear up on its own.

Yes, without proper treatment, bursitis can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and discomfort.

Certain exercises can improve strength and flexibility, helping to prevent bursitis. However, over-exercising or using incorrect techniques can trigger or worsen bursitis.

No, bursitis is not contagious. It is caused by inflammation of the bursa and not by a bacterial or viral infection.

Avoid foods that can increase inflammation, such as refined sugars, refined grains, and saturated and trans fats.

While stress itself does not cause bursitis, it can trigger behaviors that might lead to physical strain or injury, which could result in bursitis.

Yes, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or who are overweight are more prone to bursitis.

If left untreated, bursitis can result in chronic pain and may even cause a loss of motion in the affected joint.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen, are commonly used to treat the pain and inflammation of bursitis.

Yes, although rare, bursitis can be caused by a bacterial infection. This type of bursitis can cause fever and requires immediate medical attention.

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