What is bursitis?

What is bursitis? August 29, 2018

You’re out on your daily afternoon jog and suddenly your knee’s feeling painful and you can’t move it much. This may be a sign you have bursitis.

Bursitis is a condition where the bursa (the fluid-filled sac between the bone and soft tissue) becomes inflamed.

Experts at House Call Doctor say the bursa typically reduces friction in the joints and helps with overall movement.

If you injure or overuse a joint, the bursa may fill with excess fluid which can restrict movement, feel irritated, become inflamed or cause pain.

Bursitis normally affects people who are older, as age can cause the joints and tendons to stretch less and tear more easily.

Typically, the common areas for bursitis include the hip, knee, shoulder, heel (Achilles tendon) and elbow. (Ever heard of tennis elbow?)

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of bursitis include:

  • Swelling in the joint
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Reddening of the skin
  • The affected area feeling warm
  • Feeling more pain at night.


There are a few ways to treat bursitis including:

  • Resting the affected area
  • Stopping any physical activities that can worsen the injury
  • Putting ice on the areawhen you feel it becoming painful
  • Performing somephysical therapy exercises
  • Consuming anti-inflammatory medication
  • Taking prescribed corticosteroids that can help decrease the amount of pain and inflammation.

Is it preventable?

Bursitis only occurs when the joints have a build up of force or are repeatedly doing the same workout.

If you’re feeling unusual pain in the joint, stop what you’re doing immediately, as this can cause further damage.

It is important to seek medication if symptoms become severe or you’re unable to move the affected area.

Also see a doctor if you have a fever (this may mean an infection), numerous areas of pain or any swelling, redness and warmth in more than one area.

What are the causes of bursitis?

As mentioned, there are many different types of bursitis in common areas including the hip, knee and shoulder.

Each area has a cause which is often unavoidable in everyday life. These include:

  • Tennis elbow: Repetitive bending of the elbow typically causes tennis elbow, and as you might have guessed, it’s often a common problem faced by tennis players.
  • Shoulder: This is usually caused by repeated overhead lifting, or even repeatedly reaching upwards.
  • Ankle: Bursitis in the ankle is often caused by excessive walking, particularly in uncomfortable footwear. This is quite common for athletes and ice skaters.

When you should see a doctor

As most people treat bursitis at home, it can be difficult to determine when it’s time to visit a doctor. This of course depends on the severity.

You should consult with a doctor if you are experiencing any of the below:

  • Any joint pain which prevents movement
  • A long lasting pain (typically for longer than two weeks)
  • Sharp, shooting pains
  • Fever
  • Swelling, rash (or redness) and bruising.