Healthy Living

10 Tips on Living with Bursitis

10 Tips on Living with Bursitis

Key Takeaways

  • What is bursitis
  • Tips on living with bursitis
  • How to prevent complications and/or further attacks

Bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain around the joints. This can happen in the tendons, muscles, or even bones. It is brought by inflammation of the bursa. Bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion around your joints. Usually, when your joints are subjected to excess movement or too much pressure for a long time, it causes inflammation which then leads to bursitis. In other cases, the condition comes as a result of an infection. However, majority of people who suffer from bursitis are busy and active individuals such as gardeners, tennis players, athletes, and carpenters. It is also related to older age due to the weakness of bones.

Below are 10 tips to help people with bursitis manage their condition.

1. Exercise

Bursitis is often caused by overuse of tissues. It is a condition that affects weak tissues of the muscles. Lack of exercise leaves most of your muscles weak. For older people who do not engage in so much work, exercise is a must.

Older people stay for a long time without doing any strenuous activities. Once they sleep on one side or walk for a long distance, it already causes inflammation. To prevent this, it is advisable to take very simple workouts. These may include stretching the area. It may also involve moving the affected area, for example your knees or shoulders, slowly to relieve the pain. 

The other group of people who need exercise to deal with bursitis are athletes, gardeners, tennis players, or people doing physical, tiresome tasks. When one engages in strenuous movements, the bursa can get inflamed very fast. You can prevent this by stretching your bones and muscles before you start the movement. This will relax your joints. 

If you are working and you experience bursitis, it is recommended to do some exercises in between, such as stretching your legs to reduce stiffness.

2. Rest

When you undergo so much movement in your joints, it causes inflammation. To control this, especially with people who cannot stay put, it is important to rest the affected area. If you do heavy tasks and experience bursitis, then it is advisable to rest your joints to prevent further injuries to the bursa. This reduces pressure and inflammation.

3. Proper Body posture

Our body posture sometimes interferes with the bursa, causing pain in the joints. This is brought about by the way we sit, walk, sleep, and even the kind of clothes we wear. Bursitis attacking the toes is mostly caused by the kind of shoes a person is wearing.

Some of the practices you should pay attention to involves proper sitting posture. When you sit leaning on one side of your body, or supporting yourself with the elbow, it may cause bursitis of the elbow or the hip. Make sure that you sit upright. The way a person stands may also cause bursitis. When you know you are going to stand for a long time, make sure you maintain an upright posture. Try as much as possible to maintain the center of gravity at the center of your body. 

4. Use of Ice

This method is mostly used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It also helps a person deal with heat and redness in the affected area. It also reduces swelling. For people who are unable to do exercises, like the elderly, this method works really well. 

Once in a while when bursitis attacks your joints, you can use ice packs by wrapping them around the affected area. This can be done at intervals of 10-15 minutes for around 2-3 hours a day. Once this is done, the pain and swelling will go away within 3-5 days. 

5. Healthy Eating

There are a number of foods that a person should eat to strengthen their bones and joints - thus preventing bursitis. This includes eating healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Probiotic foods such as kefir, cultured veggies, yogurt, kombucha, and fruits are also very important.

6. Heat Pads or Packs

First, an ice pack then a heat pad? Confused? After bursitis attacks are less frequent, use a heating pad on the affected area. It helps improve circulation and gets rid of the extra fluid from the bursa.

Sometimes a gentle massage helps but only if there’s no infection present. Chiropractors are recommended by doctors worldwide. They use special instruments to get into the source of the pain and provide soothing massages. A couple of sessions, along with the doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, would help immensely.

7. Knowing the root cause

When symptoms prevail, figuring out the main cause behind the inflammation is important. Sometimes the doctors may recommend you to an orthopaedic surgeon or rheumatologist in order to know or confirm the root cause of the inflammation.

The infectious septic bursitis or some form of arthritis may be the cause behind the inflammation. Thus a couple of X-rays and visits to the doctor are highly recommended. Septic bursitis needs surgical attention in order to drain the liquid, which will then be tested to determine what bacteria is causing the infection.

8. Avoid tasks which alleviate the pain

Any task that involves an inclined plane should be avoided. Hills or any climbing activity should be put off until there’s complete relief from the pain. Walking on a uniform road and avoiding the stairs for a while would be wise. Sleeping on the opposite side of the painful joint and avoiding running (or jogging) for a while would be wise. 

You can try unconventional methods, like acupuncture, DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) or even ginger supplements, only under doctor’s supervision.

9. When nothing works

You have tried all the treatment methods but nothing has helped. In that case, steroidal drugs (corticosteroids) can be considered. This is an effective method to get instant relief, but it should only be used when you’re in a high level of pain. Doctors inject painkillers for severe cases due to their immediate effectivity. 

To strengthen the joint muscles, doctors advise rigorous physical therapy. As with muscular strength, the pain can be absorbed.

10. Operation Bursa

Sports people who suffer from this disease undergo surgery to put a permanent end to the pain, allowing them to continue their career. Doctors have this option up their sleeve but only in rare cases. The removal of the bursa sacs and the common procedure of draining fluid from the bursa are some of the options available. Both operations help in getting the joints in motion. Surgery should be the last course of action as the bursa is a useful organ which helps in free movement.

The Bottom Line

Below are other measures that can be undertaken by bursitis sufferers in order to prevent further attacks or reduce its effects. 

  • Use protective pads for your knees and elbows when working under pressure.
  • Avoid sitting on very hard surfaces for long periods of time.

Living with bursitis can easily be controlled if one adheres to the measures outlined in this article.