Do you have a joint which feels stiff or sore? Alternatively, your joint might hurt when you move or apply pressure to it. It can also be red and swollen. If this applies to you, then it is quite possible you’re suffering from bursitis.
Bursitis is a relatively common medical condition and is, typically, not an excessively serious one. Although, it can often be quite painful. Of course, complications are always possible so you need to make sure you know exactly what you are dealing with and when to ask for medical help. This article will explain how to cure bursitis and will cover both the measures you can take at home and the treatments your doctor may prescribe if the more conservative approach does not bear fruit.
But before we get to the cure, we first need to quickly go over what bursitis actually is and what causes it. This will make it easier to explain how to go about treating it.
What Is Bursitis?
When a bursa (or several bursae) become inflamed, the resulting medical condition is what is known as bursitis. A bursa is, put plainly, a small sac. It is filled with fluid and serves as a cushion which reduces the friction around your joint created by the bones, muscles, and tendons.
When a bursa is healthy, it creates a smooth surface which facilitates normal and painless movement. But when you have an inflammation, you can experience some (or all) of the symptoms we mentioned at the very start of this article.
You can find bursae around just about every major joint in your body. In fact, there are over 150 of them in total. Any of the bursae can become inflamed and lead to bursitis, but there are certain spots on your body where this condition is the most likely to develop. These include the shoulders, knees, elbows, hips, and feet – specifically, the area around the heel.
Probably the most common cause of bursitis is putting your joint under too much stress. This can be due to repetitive motions or spending extended periods of time in positions that apply added pressure on the joint and the bursae. One example would be repeatedly lifting an object over your head. Another is leaning on your elbow or kneeling for long periods.
Another common way to develop bursitis is due to physical injury to an area near a bursa. An infection can also be the reason behind it. Finally, this issue can also be associated with some other conditions such as arthritis or gout.
As you can see, bursitis can affect just about anyone. Still, certain factors can increase the risk for an individual to develop it. Unsurprisingly, one of those factors is age. As you get older, your body will simply be unable to deal with such issues as effectively as it once could.
Additionally, certain professions and hobbies can make you more likely to develop bursitis. As you can guess, this would be any work or activity which involves a repetitive motion or puts a specific bursa under pressure. This can be something like carpet laying (due to the kneeling) or playing a musical instrument. Because of this association, certain types of bursitis are also known under names such as “housemaid’s knee” or “student’s elbow”, among many others.
Furthermore, excessive body weight can also contribute to a person developing bursitis in their hip or knee.
Now that we’ve explained what bursitis is, some of the treatment options should be pretty easy to guess. What’s more, you frequently won’t need to do much in the way actively treating it. Still, some cases will require more advanced treatment methods, and a lot will depend on whether the condition involves an infection.
In many cases, resting the joint which is affected by bursitis is all you need to do to treat it. In other words, it will get better on its own. It will usually take a few weeks for the symptoms to disappear completely, although it is not uncommon to experience the occasional flare-up.
During this period, there are some measures you can take to relieve the associated pain and discomfort.
First and foremost is not overusing the affected joint and ensuring it does not suffer further trauma. This entails rest and limiting your movements. Additionally, if the bursitis is in your knee and you tend to sleep on your side, you can place a pillow between your legs to reduce the pressure.
You can also apply ice to help the swelling subside – this is particularly effective within the first couple of days following the appearance of the symptoms. After that period, applying heat (in the form of warm baths or heating pads) may also be beneficial.
You can also combat the inflammation and reduce the pain with the help of certain over-the-counter medications – ibuprofen is one such drug.
If the above methods don’t produce the desired results after a while or if your symptoms are severe, you need to see a doctor. They will have several options when it comes to further treatment.
For one, we’ve mentioned that bursitis can involve an infection (septic bursitis). If that is the case, the doctor can give you an antibiotic to take.
Injections of corticosteroids into the affected bursa are another option. This can be very helpful if other treatment methods fail to sufficiently reduce the inflammation and pain. This tends to produce results quickly, and a single injection will often be enough.
Alternatively, your doctor may have you use a walking cane or a similar device for a while in order to reduce the pressure on the area in question. Physical therapy is another option. This can not only reduce the pain but also prevent the condition from recurring.
Finally, surgical drainage of the inflamed bursa is sometimes necessary. As a last resort, the bursa can also be removed via surgery.
Hopefully, this article has given you sufficient information on how to cure bursitis. You often won’t need to do much else besides resting the affected joint, but not all cases are as benign as that. If your problems are severe, you will have to go to your doctor. Either way, you now know what you can expect.