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WHAT ARE BURSA?

Bursa are small fluid filled sac that sit between muscles, tendons and bones. Their job is to reduce friction between these structures and provide shock absorption services. Like the large majority of tissue in the body, bursa can be a source of pain. This condition in called bursitis.

WHAT IS BURSITIS?

Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa in the body. This inflammation and swelling process causes the bursa to become enlarged and increase the rubbing and friction between it and the muscle/tendons it is supposed to protect. This friction leads to a cycle of inflammation and swelling that keeps the bursa getting more and more irritated and painful.

Joint image

COMMON CAUSES OF BURSITIS

• Overuse of the joint
o Tasks repeated for extended periods of time, e.g. vacuuming, cleaning and gardening for hours on end
• Trauma
o Sudden unexpected irritation to the bursa, e.g. falling onto a joint, bumping against something
• Pressure
o Leaning or resting on an area for extend periods of time, e.g. resting elbows on a desk, lying on your side, kneeling on the ground

COMMON AREAS OF BURSITIS

• Shoulder (Subacromial Bursitis)
• Elbow (Olecranon Bursitis)
• Knee (Prepatellar Bursitis, Infrapatellar Bursitis)
• Hip (Trochanteric Bursitis, GTPS)
• Ankle (Achilles Bursitis)

DIAGNOSIS OF BURSITIS

Diagnosis with one of our qualified physiotherapists will include a discussion about your symptoms, medical history, exercise regime as well as daily habits. After this, a physical examination of the affected area to gauge severity and presence of inflammation and joint reaction. On some occasions further investigation and imaging may be required and we are able to offer advice referrals regarding these options.

TREATMENT FOR BURSITIS

Graded rest
o Bursitis responds well to rest as the process of injury/inflammation (as detailed above) is usually a result of a movement related activity. Resting allows for a reduction of the factors that keep the bursa in it annoyed and inflamed state which helps reduce the pain.
o DO NOT – stop all activity. A small reduction of activity that allows the bursa to calm down has greater results than complete rest. Stopping all activities may result in complications or even the return of symptoms once the pain has stopped and you have returned to your normal activities.
Exercise
o Progressive exercise and loading help to maintain the movement and strength around the affected area. Exercise has been shown to improve the speed of recovery of bursitis along with reducing the chance of re-occurrence in the future.
Medical Management
o Using anti-inflammatory medication (if appropriate) can help control the swelling of the bursa and therefore reduce the pain and symptoms of the affected joint.
o Steroid injections into the bursa have been shown to have good pain and swelling control effects. Normally this is used in conjunction with the above mentioned treatment methods