• Bursitis


    Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a thin sac that lies between bone and soft tissue near certain joints. A healthy bursa allows smooth movement of soft tissue over bone. Inflammation can make it painful to move the nearby joint.
    Bursitis occurs most often in the:
    • Shoulder
    • Elbow
    • Knee
    • Hip
    Bursitis in the Shoulder
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Bursitis may be caused by:
    • A blow to an area containing a bursa
    • Repetitive stress on the bursa
    • Infection in bursa
    • Long periods of pressure on joint—leaning on elbows, sitting or kneeling on hard surfaces
    • Medical conditions that cause inflammation in joints such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
    If the stress is not relieved, bursitis can become a long-term condition.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of bursitis include:
    • Repetitive motion activities when done to an extreme, such as swimming, running, or tennis
    • A job that requires:
      • Repetitive motions such as hammering or painting
      • Long hours in one position such as a carpenter kneeling
    • Contact sports
    • Sporting gear that is too tight
    • A puncture or deep cut that involves bursa


    Bursitis may cause:
    • Pain in the area
    • Swelling
    • Reddened skin
    • Warmth around the area of the bursa
    • Decreased motion of the nearby joint
    • Decreased function of the nearby limb


    You will be asked about your symptoms and your physical activities. The painful area will be examined.
    Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with x-rays.


    Bursitis treatment will focus on decreasing inflammation and pain. The main step is to stop the activity causing the pain. You will be asked to rest the area and protect it from injury. Your doctor may also recommend:
    • Applying ice to the area in the first few days
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for inflammation and pain
    • Crutches or a cane if knee or hip bursitis needs support
    If the bursitis is painful, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection. These injections have short-term benefits and some risk. They may be limited to conditions that interfere with daily activities.
    Chronic bursitis may need more aggressive treatment. Additional steps may include:
    • Physical therapy—sessions may include exercises and heat therapy
    • Surgery—only if all other treatments are not effective


    To help reduce your chance of bursitis:
    • Do not overdo sports and other activities.
    • When doing a new activity, gradually increase the intensity and duration of activity.
    • Make sure you perform activities correctly.
    • Wear properly fitting, protective pads if you play contact sports.
    • Use proper safety equipment at work.
    • Work with an ergonomic specialist to improve work related activities.


    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org


    Canadian Association of General Surgeons http://www.cags-accg.ca

    Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org


    Bursitis. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center website. Available at: http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/arthritis-rheumatology/bursitis. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Bursitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/bursitis. Updated February 28, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Elbow (olecranon) bursitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00028. Updated January 2011. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Hip bursitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00409. Updated March 2014. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Prepatellar bursitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114661/Prepatellar-bursitis. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Tendinitis and bursitis. American College of Rheumatology. Available at: https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Tendinitis-Bursitis. Updated May 2015. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.