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Houston Orthopedic Doctor Answers Your Questions About Bursitis

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

If you have joint pain, stiffness or swelling in a frequently used joint, such as the elbow, shoulder, hip or knee, you could be suffering from bursitis, a very common condition that is often easy to cure.

What is bursitis?

Bursitis occurs when the bursae, fluid-filled cushions in the joints, become inflamed. In addition to the above-mentioned joints, bursitis can develop in the heel, at the base of the big toe, and elsewhere. Typically, bursitis appears in joints that are subject to repetitive motion.

What are the symptoms of bursitis?

Bursitis may cause the affected joint to…

  • Feel stiff and sore
  • Appear red and swollen
  • Hurt when pressed or moved

Consider seeing your primary care provider or an orthopedic doctor if the pain makes it difficult or impossible for you to move the joint; if the pain lasts for more than just a week or two; if swelling does not go down; if you have a fever; or if the pain is sharp or shooting.

Why did I get bursitis?

Bursitis is typically caused by repetitive motion or remaining in one position for a long time. Movements such as throwing a ball, overhead lifting, prolonged kneeling or even sitting on hard surfaces for an extended period can lead to bursitis.

How is bursitis diagnosed?

Of course, not all instances of joint pain are caused by bursitis. Many times, joint pain is caused by arthritis. (You can learn more about a few of the most common types of arthritis here.)

During an evaluation, your Houston orthopedic provider will ask a series of questions about your medical history, perform a physical exam and possibly recommend some diagnostic tests in order to determine if the joint pain is caused by bursitis, arthritis or another cause. Tests may include:

  • Imaging tests, such as x-rays or MRI to rule out other possible causes of joint pain.
  • Lab tests, such as blood tests or fluid analysis to locate the cause of pain and inflammation.

What treatments are available for bursitis?

There are a number of bursitis therapies; in many cases, conservative therapies are sufficient for treating this condition. Standard Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, along with an NSAID, is oftentimes enough for patients to get the relief they need.

The use of corticosteroid injections may provide temporary relief for some patients. Also, some individuals could benefit from physical therapy, antibiotics or drainage of the inflamed bursa.

See a Houston Orthopedic Doctor

To learn more about bursitis and your options, see a nearby orthopedic doctor with Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. To schedule, call (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.