Bursitis

Fluid-filled sacs (bursa) function as cushions between body parts, where muscles and tendons glide over bone (in particular at joints).

Overview

Fluid-filled sacs (bursa) function as cushions between body parts, where muscles and tendons glide over bone (in particular at joints). Constant irritation or an injury can lead to these sacs becoming inflamed and painful. Cooling and rest usually help provide relief.

Symptoms

Bursitis generally comes as a surprise, even when caused by activities which you have been doing for many years without any problems. Typical signs are:

  • Soft to taut, fluid-filled swelling at the joint
  • The skin is red and overheated
  • The area is painful, particularly when pressed
  • Normal joint movements can be painful

Complications

  • Fever if the bursa is infected (by bacteria)

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Constant irritation through pressure and chafing
  • Accident injury after a blow or bruise
  • Rheumatic diseases (e.g. polyarthritis or gout)

Specific areas have typical triggers:

  • Knee cap for floor layers and roof tilers
  • Elbow for office workers
  • Achilles tendon for long distance runners
  • Shoulder for pre-existing impingement syndrome

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Thorough examination of the affected body part
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
Possible therapies
  • Painkillers
  • Antibiotics (for bacterial infections)
  • Pricking of the bursa and removal of the fluid, followed by a compression bandage and immobilisation with a splint
  • Surgery (removal of the entire bursa)

What can I do myself?

  • Stop the trigger activity and only resume it after the inflammation has cleared up completely
  • Cool the overheated area with anti-inflammatory ointments or compresses
  • Rest and try not to move the joint too much
  • Elevate the affected area

When to see a doctor?

  • Swelling, redness, overheating or pain in a joint
  • Frequently recurring bursitis
  • If accompanied by fever

Synonyms

impingement, fever

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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