Bursitis

Inflammation of the bursa, the small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between muscles and bones in joint. Bursitis can cause severe pain in the affected joint, particularly during movement, and most commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle. Bursitis may have several causes, including arthritis, infection, injury, or excessive use. Common forms of bursitis include:

  • housemaid’s knee — chronic inflammation of the front of the knee characterized by redness and swelling from kneeling for long periods;
  • miner’s elbow — bursitis caused by resting on one’s elbows; and
  • weaver’s bottom — bursitis of the hip seen in people who sit in one position for prolonged periods.

Treatment is geared toward relieving pain and maintaining proper movement of the joint. Corticosteroids may be injected directly into the bursa to relieve acute pain. Other commonly used treatment include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, cold applications, and immobility of the affected area. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. To help prevent bursitis, the National Institutes of Health recommends exercising regularly, strengthening muscles around joints, taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks, cushioning the affected joint, and avoiding sitting for long periods of time.

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