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What is Bursitis? Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Rosenberg   
Friday, 09 October 2009
What is going on in the body?

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that act like cushions. They keep tendons and bones from rubbing against each other. Bursae are found in places like the shoulder, hips, knees and ankles. Bursitis occurs when bursae sacs become inflamed. Usually this happens if the bursae or tendon is over-used.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Bursitis is caused when the bursa sac of a particular set of bones and tendons becomes inflamed, usually due to overuse. Sometimes trauma to a bursa will cause bursitis.
Bursae can become infected, although this is not common.

What are the treatments for the disease?

Treatments include rest, icing the affected bursa, and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, or other pain relievers. If this does not work, an injection of steroids, such as cortrisone, into the affected bursa can provide dramatic relief. To do this, the area of skin over the bursa is sterilized with a cleaning solution and a small needle is placed into the bursa, releasing steroids and numbing medicine. After a few days the steroids will calm the inflammation, relieving the pain and improving range of motion.
What are the side effects of the treatments?

Some people cannot take anti-inflammatory drugs since they can irritate the stomach and, if taken on a regular basis, can produce stomach ulcers.

Injections are usually well tolerated, but should not be given to anyone allergic to steroids or nerve numbing medicine like lidocaine. Injections can cause infection or bleeding, although this is rare. People on blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin, should talk to their doctors before having a steroid injection.
What happens after treatment for the disease?

After an injection, people should rest and apply ice to the affected bursa. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be taken along with the steroid injection to help relieve pain and swelling. As the bursitis resolves, people may return to their former activities. But, this can cause the bursitis to recur if it is done too soon.
How is the disease monitored?

The disease is monitored by physical examination.

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