Article by John Miller

What is Bursitis?


Bursitis is a painful inflammation of a bursa, that normally cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles from rubbing against each other. When a bursa becomes inflamed, the bursa loses its gliding capabilities, and becomes more and more irritated and painful when it is moved. The added bulk of the swollen bursa causes more friction within an already confined space.

A bursa (small, fluid-filled sac) is found where muscles and tendons glide over bones. You have more than 150 bursae in your body. These small, fluid-filled sacs lubricate and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons and muscles near your joints. Without the bursa between these surfaces, movements would be painful due to friction.

The bursa can be thought of as a self-contained bag with a lubricant and no air inside. If you imagine rubbing this bag between your hands; movement of your hands would be smooth and effortless. That is what a bursa is meant to do; offer a smooth, slippery surface between two moving objects.

What Causes Bursitis?

Repetitive Irritation

Bursitis usually results from a repetitive movement or due to prolonged and excessive pressure. People who have weak hip muscles and tend to sway as they walk can develop hip (trochanteric) bursitis. Similarly in other parts of the body, repetitive use or frequent pressure can irritate a bursa and cause inflammation.

Traumatic Injury

Another cause of bursitis is a traumatic injury. Following trauma, such as a car accident or fall, a patient may develop bursitis. Usually a contusion causes swelling within the bursa. The bursa, which had functioned normally up until that point, now begins to develop inflammation, and bursitis results. Once the bursa is inflamed, normal movements and activities can become painful.

Systemic Diseases

Systemic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also lead to bursitis. These types of conditions can make patients susceptible to developing bursitis.


Common Types of Bursitis

Bursitis Treatment

Bursitis pain usually goes away within a week or so with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups are common and can be frustrating.  Bursitis is a symptom caused by many other factors, that if you don't solve, will render you vulnerable to recurrences.  Your physiotherapist is highly trained in identifying the biomechanical or training causes of bursitis.  To quickly solve your pain and stop it returning again, we recommend that you seek the advice of your local physiotherapist.

You should apply ice, avoid activities that reproduce your pain and seek professional advice. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually ineffective in the treatment of bursitis since the bursa is isolated from your blood supply. You may however try applying an anti-inflammatory gel.

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Bursitis Treatment
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Neurodynamics
  • Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
  • Prehabilitation
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Helpful Products for Bursitis


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    Last updated 24-Mar-2015 10:23 PM

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