What is Bursitis?

What is Bursitis?



A bursae is a small fluid filled sack and when healthy are around about 1mm thick, they act as little buffers that reduce fractioning of tissue around joints. They are more prominent around large joints of the body such as the knee, hip and shoulder however can be found near smaller joints too. The body contains around 140 of these little sacks and can also grow extras in areas that are needed. 


When they become inflamed by either too much compression or infection they can enlarge and cause pain, heat, swelling and stiffness around the joint. Common types of bursitis are prepatellar which effects the knee, olecranon which effects the elbow, trochanteric which effects the hip and retrocalcaneal which effects the foot and ankle. 


Most patients will respond to non-invasive procedures such as ice therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and paracetamol and modification of activities that may be causing too much pressure over the bursae. 


Bursitis can be commonly misdiagnosed for tendinopathy as the symptoms can be very similar however there is usually a lot more swelling and heat present in bursitis and pain is usually increased with compression over the area. People that suffer with Trochanteric or sub deltoid bursitis struggle to lay on the side that is effected due to the pressure being put onto the bursae. If the issue is a complicated diagnosis there are further investigational processes which could assist with the diagnosis, musculoskeletal ultrasound, MRI and a blood test to look for bacteria can be performed.


If the bursae is inflamed due to continuous pressure and not infection then the advice we would give is to simply help reduce the inflammation by applying ice over the area for 10 mins at a time (10 minutes on/10 minutes off), if your health allows you to apply non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to the area such as Voltarol or ibuprofen cream, reduce the amount of pressure being applied to the bursae whether that is adapting exercise, changing ergonomic position or sleeping position. During manual therapy a variety treatment techniques would be used to reduce pressure over the bursae and reduce inflammation. 


If the bursae is inflamed due to bacterial infection then this is when to see your GP as a course of antibiotics may be required or if the bursitis is chronic and not being helped by the previous treatment modalities a corticosteroid is an option to administer a quick and strong pain relief.


Close Menu
Correct Osteo Clinic Logo


Osteopathy works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments, viscera and connective tissues functioning smoothly together Osteopathy takes a holistic, whole-body approach to healthcare.