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Bursitis

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Bursae are small fluid filled sacs occurring naturally in the body which provide adequate cushion in the pressure points of the joints. The human body has about 150 bursae. Bursitis is the inflammation, pain, and irritation that can occur when the bursae is overstressed. Bursitis is a common condition and often strikes athletes, factory workers, and any individual with perpetual stress to the body.

Bursitis is not considered a serious condition, and often bursitis can clear up within a week. However bursitis can flare up repeatedly and cause chronic painful joint movement. There are no specific joints that are affected by bursitis, and any joint from the neck or shoulder to the big toe may be affected by bursitis.

BURSITIS SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of bursitis may include stiffness of the affected joint, the sensation of warmth around the affected area, swelling of the affected joint, an increase of pain associated with pressure or movement, and sometimes redness of the skin of the affected joint and the surrounding area. Some bursae of the joints are located well beneath the skin, such as the bursae of the hip joints. In these cases, the main symptom is pain, as swelling, redness, and warmth can not be detected due to the bursae’s location.
Bursitis
Image: Bursitis

BURSITIS CAUSES

Stress, overuse, trauma, injury, prolonged pressure, infection arthritis, and gout can all cause bursitis. Some patients with connective tissue disorders such as some forms of lupus, or other disease relating to the bones structure, tissue, or muscle inflammation may experience bursitis occasionally. Bursitis in the buttocks is often caused by frequent and prolonged sitting on hard and unforgiving surfaces. Bursitis of the buttocks refers to the painful bursitis of the very end of the tailbone. Bursitis of the knee is common in both athletes and patients who are significantly overweight. Patients who are significantly overweight often overstress the knee and ankle joints and often develop recurring bursitis. Athletes most often develop bursitis of the knee or ankle due to chronic overuse.

Bursitis is very common in athletes as well as retired athletes. In some cases, bursitis can occur when a retired athlete becomes active and strains a part of the body they once relied on heavily in their sport. Other risk factors for bursitis include occupations that involve heavy repetitive motion, particularly workers that are over the age of 45. Additionally, patients with the pre-existing conditions such as gout, arthritis, staphylococcal infection, and in rare instances, tuberculosis are at an increased risk for bursitis.

BURSITIS DIAGNOSIS

Before diagnosing bursitis, a physician will want to do a physical examination and receive an accurate report of recent activity and injury even if the injury was a small one. In order to rule out other possible explanations for the discomfort and other patient complaints, imaging diagnostics are often used, such as x-rays, MRIs, and in some cases, blood tests. These diagnostic efforts help rule out stress factures, bone conditions, and other diseases that may be the sole cause of the joint pain. In most cases, a diagnosis of bursitis comes after ruling out obvious stresses and injuries to the joint. Bursitis will almost always have an obvious stress cause. In cases where it is not possible to determine an overuse cause additional testing in recommended.
Joint pain
Image: Joint pain


Some cases of bursitis will simply clear up on their own. The majority of cases require rest of the affected area as well as immobilization, and treatment for pain. Pain is most often addressed with the use of NSAID pain relievers.

BURSITIS PREVENTION

Physical therapy may be required in order to prevent continual flare ups and recurrences of bursitis. In instances of bursitis which is caused by an infection, antibiotic medications are required. In rare cases of chronic bursitis, injections of corticosteroids directly into the joint that is bothersome can help alleviate the pain.

BURSITIS TREATMENT

The application of ice, elevation, and the reduction of pressure and stress from the joint can help bursitis heal faster and more comfortably. Heat can help relax the muscles around the affected joint after the first few days of a flare up. Exercises which strengthen the muscles attached to the joint as well as improve the joint’s flexibility can help prevent future flare ups. Patients who are required to perform repetitive motion tasks need to take ample breaks as well as change position frequently. Good posture as well as minimizing long periods of sedentary positioning such as sitting can also help prevent future bursitis flare ups.
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