Bursitis – what is it and how is it treated?

What is it?

A bursa is a fluid filled sac which usually serves to cushion the joint and assists in shock absorption. Typically people experience “bursitis” when the bursa becomes swollen.

The regions most commonly affected are the shoulder, the elbow, the knee, the hip and the heel. Pain can occur in the shoulder when reaching above and beyond 90 degrees, in the knee when kneeling, the hip when lying on the painful side and the achilles during periods of prolonged walking or standing.

Why do they become inflamed?

Usually these regions become inflamed when another structure is rubbing against them during a repetitive action, such as walking or running.

How do we treat them?

Most of the time bursitis issues can be treated with ice, over the counter anti-inflammatories and modification to normal activities. Weight can highly contribute to bursitis in the lower limbs particularly the hip and therefore a weight-loss regime can also serve to improve health.

Physiotherapy can be very helpful in treating bursitis.

Your physiotherapist can advise on what you can do yourself to assist in treating the inflammation, but what is more helpful is to look at why it started in the first place. Often there is a movement dysfunction or weakness in a muscle, or group of muscles, which has caused the bursa to become angry and irritated. Physiotherapists will often prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises in treating bursitis issues.

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