Bursitis is a condition that results in painful inflammation within the bursa or bursae. Bursae are relatively small sacs filled with fluid that provide a cushion of the areas around bones and various types of tissue throughout the body. They offer protection for the spaces that surround bones, tendons, muscles, and the skin.

If a bursa experiences irritation and starts to swell up, bursitis occurs. The most commonly impacted areas of the body include the hips, the shoulders, the feet, and the elbows; however, other regions of the body may also be affected. In this guide, you will learn about bursitis and how it affects the body.

bursitis xray
photo source wikimedia

What Causes Bursitis?

Bursitis is typically caused by motions that are repetitive in nature and/or by engaging in positions of the body that place pressure on a bursa that is located around a joint. Many individuals develop bursitis because of the fact that an injury or some type of trauma has occurred to the area that is affected.

Additional causes include suffering from inflammatory conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, bursitis may develop as a result of an infection.

Are There Risk Factors Associated with Bursitis?

Yes, there are several risk factors associated with bursitis. These include the following:

  1. Age – It is more common for older adults to suffer from the condition. In fact, it is a condition that is known to become more common among people as a result of the natural aging process.
  2. Hobbies and Work-Related Activities – If one engages in activities that have repetitive motions or result in pressure being placed on a bursa within the body, bursitis may occur. These are common among those with certain hobbies – such as painting – and work-related activities – such as computer work.
  3. Underlying Health Conditions – Certain underlying health conditions may lead to the development of bursitis. Examples include diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even gout. Furthermore, those that are overweight may find that they experience the issue in their knees and their hips.

What are the Different Types of Bursitis?

Bursitis is a condition that is capable of occurring at any location within the body; however, there are common, specific types of bursitis. These include the following:

  1. Elbow Bursitis – This type of bursitis affects the olecranon bursa, which results in swelling at the very tip of the elbow. In most cases, it stems from resting weight directly upon the elbow. It has been identified as “student’s elbow” and as “miner’s elbow”. This is also identified as “olecranon bursitis” or “Popeye elbow”.
  2. Heel Bursitis – This bursitis type results in swelling located on the back of the ankle or the back region of the heel. There are two types that affect the heel. These include retrocalcaneal bursitis and subcutaneous calcaneal bursitis. The first may be caused by moderate to heavy physical activity or a foot or heel issue. The second often occurs due to wearing shoes that do not fit properly.
  3. Hip Bursitis – There are two bursae that are located within the hip region of the body. These include the iliopsoas and the trochanteric. In iliopsoas bursitis, individuals that have tight hip muscles – such as athletes – may be affected. In trochanteric bursitis, symptoms may occur as a result of sitting for long periods of time, having an iliotibial band that is tight, gluteal muscles that are weak, or trochanter pain syndrome. Injuries and impacts may also cause the issue to develop.
  4. Knee Bursitis – The types of knee bursitis include prepatellar, pes anserine bursitis, and iliotibial. Tight hamstrings, a tight IT ban, increased friction, and similar issues may result in the development of knee bursitis.
  5. Shoulder Bursitis – This type of bursitis seems to be associated with the medical condition that is identified as “shoulder impingement syndrome”. In other cases, it may develop due to overhead repeated movements, side-sleeping, and placing unnatural levels of pressure on the shoulder for extended periods of time.

What are the Symptoms of Bursitis?

The symptoms vary with bursitis – depending on the severity of the issue. The most commonly experienced symptoms are as follows:

  • Swelling
  • Pain – More Common with the Movement of the Affected Region
  • Limited Range of Motion and/or Mobility

In some instances, an infection may cause bursitis to occur. In these instances, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Discolored or Red Skin
  • Skin Hot to Touch
  • Chills
  • Fever

What is Septic Bursitis?

Septic bursitis – often identified as “infectious bursitis” – occurs when a bursa becomes infected and inflammation occurs. The infection is typically bacterial-based.

Various symptoms may occur. The main symptoms include tenderness, skin that is warm to the touch, inflammation, stiffness of the joints, fever, and pain.

It is a condition that must be treated by a medical doctor. Common treatments include antibiotics, aspiration with a needle, drainage, and a bursectomy.

This is a potentially serious medical condition and professional medical treatment should be sought immediately.

What is the Fastest Treatment for Bursitis?

If one suffers from bursitis, there are several treatments that may prove to be effective. These include

  • resting the affected part of the body
  • applying cold packs
  • using pain relievers
  • engaging in a range of motion exercises.

In addition to home remedies, physical therapy has been outlined as an effective strategy for curing the symptoms of bursitis.

If you are currently seeing a doctor for bursitis, inquire as to whether or not you are a good candidate for physical therapy. If you are a known sufferer, you may pursue physical therapy treatment on your own, too.

ice pack treatment for bursitis

What Type of Physical Therapy is Used to Treat Bursitis?

There are many types of physical therapy used to treat bursitis. These include many treatments and a wide array of technologies. Those techniques utilized are designed to assist in alleviating pain, reducing inflammation, and improving range of motion and/or mobility.

A licensed physical therapist may use ice therapy, heat therapy, electrical stimulation ultrasound technology therapy, taping, specialized massage, and a wide assortment of exercises specific to the part of the body that is negatively impacted by the bursitis.

Many individuals prefer physical therapy to medication therapy and surgical intervention because it is safer and, oftentimes, more productive at treating the issue.

Is Physical Therapy Massage Safe for Bursitis?

Yes, physical therapy massage is safe for bursitis. The only exception is if the bursitis is occurring as a result of an infection. In that case, you will not want the area to be massaged. Doing massage on an infected bursa could result in an inadvertent spread of the agent causing the infection to other areas of the body. This could result in a potentially serious emergency. If you have infectious bursitis, you must only engage in treatments that will aid in eliminating the infection, such as broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment and others as outlined by your medical doctor.

Contact Us Today

If you are suffering from the symptoms of bursitis or have been previously diagnosed with the condition, we here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy are capable of assisting you. We offer a wide range of treatments for the various types of bursitis that are safe and effective. If you suffer from infectious bursitis, we recommend obtaining initial treatment from a medical doctor so that the initial infection may be cleared. Following the clearing of the infection, we can better assist you. If you would like to learn about our treatment methods, would like more information on bursitis, or would like to set up an appointment, we encourage you to give us a call today at the following number: 303-832-5577

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