Bursitis in inflammation of a bursa within the body which are closed, fluid filled sacks that are located wherever friction occurs between a tendon or muscle and the underlying bone. There are many bursae thrgoughout the body including the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and heel. If there is an imbalance within the joint, there will be excessive pressure placed on the bursa which will in turn become irritated and inflamed. This imbalance can be caused by weakness, poor posture or repetitive overload/overuse. Bursae have a high nervous supply so can become very painful when inflamed. Certain disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes can also contribute to its development.
Symptoms can include localised pain and swelling, a warm sensation around the area, increased pain at night and with movement as well as stifness and sometimes reddening of the skin. To confirm or rule out bursitis you will likely undergo a physical examination of the affected joint as well as consideration of medical imaging such as an ultrasound to examine the bursa itself. The important thing to note with bursitis is that while the bursa is inflammed, bursitis is rarely the primary diagnosis for your joint pain, it is merely one of the side affects of a poorly functioning joint. Therefore, it is important that treatment focuses on more than just settling down the inflammed buirsa but also on correcting the problem that has caused the initial inflammation.
Treatment will focus on correcting the joint imbalance to avoid recurrences and will aim to relieve the symptoms as much as possible while the healing takes place. Options may include cold-packs, rest or avoidance of aggravating activities, gentle mobilising exercises and medications including anti-inflammatories and possible corticosteroid injections in severe cases. Correct posture and joint alignment are important during recovery and therefore assistive braces or splints can be useful.