Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs that help cushion your bones, tendons, and muscles. These sacs are called bursae and they function to decrease friction, rubbing, and irritation of your joints. Bursitis occurs when the bursae become inflamed resulting in pain and discomfort. Pain can be gradual or may be sudden and severe. This happens most often in the shoulder, elbow, knees, and feet.

The most common causes of bursitis are repetitive motions or positions that put pressure on the bursae around a joint. This can be associated with playing sports such as baseball, tennis, or weightlifting; or as a result from every day or occupational activities such as extensive kneeling or resting on your elbow. Bursitis may also occur as a result of an injury.

Bursitis treatment is typically nonsurgical, and recovery can often be achieved through rest, but flare-ups after recovery are common.

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  • Affected joints look swollen and red
  • Stiff or achy joints
  • Increased pain when you move the joint or press on the inflamed area
  • Repetitive motions or positions that put pressure or stress on the joint such as throwing, kneeling, or leaning 
  • Direct impact on the area from trauma or an injury
  • Stress on the soft tissue from an abnormal or poorly positioned joint or bone
  • A profession or hobbies that require repetitive motions or pressure on the bursae such as playing tennis, throwing a baseball, or kneeling for extended periods of time
  • Medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes
  • Excessive weight
  • Physical examination of affected areas 
  • X-ray, MRI, and/or ultrasound to provide increased visibility of affected areas
  • Lab tests may be used to evaluate the fluid within the bursae and determine the cause of joint inflammation and pain
  • RICE therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
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