Healthy Living

Causes of Bursitis

What Is Bursitis?

Key Takeaways

  • By lessening friction, every one of the more than 150 bursae in the body helps the joints execute smooth movements throughout their complete ranges of normal motion.
  • A joint is subjected to great stress by either overuse, a traumatic injury, or constant pressure for an extended duration. Any of these can cause a bursa to become swollen. 
  • Health conditions that can cause bursitis include thyroid disorders, gout, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What Is Bursitis?

The tendons, bones, and muscles around our joints are protected by tiny balloon-like cushions called bursae. These bursae are filled with lubricating fluid, which buffers the surrounding tissue from the rubbing and stress that normal movement would otherwise cause. By lessening friction, every one of the more than 150 bursae in the body helps the joints execute smooth movements throughout their complete ranges of normal motion.

Sometimes, however, stress exerted upon by a bursa can cause the sac's inflammation. This causes the affected joint to hurt or feel stiff, and the skin over it to become red and swollen. This is the condition known as bursitis.

Causes of Bursitis

Since bursitis is the inflammation and irritation of bodily tissue, it has been very difficult for people to identify its root cause. This also makes it hard to prevent the condition. It is clear, however, that the condition is often caused by some activities carried out in normal life. Knowing some of these causes allows you to avoid them, or at least be careful about doing them too much, and thus prevent bursitis. 

A joint is subjected to great stress by either overuse, a traumatic injury, or constant pressure for an extended duration. Any of these can cause a bursa to become swollen. The swollen sac gets overly filled with liquid and this, in turn, creates pressure against the neighboring tissue. A person with bursitis will first feel pain, along with tenderness and swelling in the affected area.

Bursitis is caused by any of the following:

Bursa Overuse

Bursae act as cushions to prevent friction and allow the smooth, easy movement of the joints. Too much movement of a joint inflames the bursa, causing pain in the joints as well as the bursa itself. 

This condition commonly occurs because of repetitive movements or prolonged excessive pressure. Examples of activities that lead to overuse of the tissue include playing golf, tennis, jogging, skiing, raking, shoveling, and doing carpentry. 

Trochanteric bursitis, otherwise known as hip bursitis, often occurs in patients who have weak hip muscles and display a swaying gait when they walk, putting pressure on the trochanteric bursa.

Shoulder bursitis, also called subacromial bursitis, tends to occur when the bursa is pinched between the rotator cuff of the shoulder and the bone next to it.

Traumatic Injury

Another cause of bursitis is an injury involving impact that causes trauma, such as the impact one would sustain in a car accident or hard fall. This trauma may make the bursa swell, and the swelling develops into an inflammation. This created bursitis along with any movement of the affected joint results in severe pain. One of the usual types of bursitis occurs when a person falls and lands heavily on the knees.

Abnormality in the Body

This is another cause of bursitis. Wrongly or poorly aligned bones and joints may predispose a person to bursitis. For example, if your legs are of different lengths, you are more likely to develop bursitis.

Other Health Complications

There are a number of health problems that may cause bursitis. These are complications that mostly cause the inflammation of and stress on the bursa. These conditions include thyroid disorders, gout, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

There are other circumstances where a bursa is attacked by an infection that causes swelling and inflammation, leading to bursitis. This usually happens to people with very weak immune systems where, for example, bacteria pass through the skin and affect the bursa. Among the people whose immune systems may not be that robust are HIV/AIDS and diabetes victims.

Previous Surgery

When a person undergoes surgery on one of the his or her organs, the likelihood of bursitis increases. The most commonly affected part for women is the hip.

Injury

As people go about their normal daily activities, many of them experience injuries in different parts of their bodies. These injuries contribute very much toward the occurrence of bursitis. Examples of these injuries include:

  • Ankle injury - This is commonly experienced by athletes. It happens when one walks for long distances or uses the wrong shoes.
  • Thigh injury - This is brought about by stretching.
  • Injury to the buttocks - This happens when you sit on a hard surface, especially for a long time.
  • Hip injury - This is usually sustained by both athletes who run long distances or do sprints.
  • Clergyman’s knee - This is brought on by frequent kneeling.
  • Tennis elbow - This happens when there is repetitive bending of the elbow. It is a condition that is very common among tennis players.

Other causes of bursitis

Bursitis can also be caused by old age. When the bodily tissue of older people can no longer function properly, bursae may become inflamed. The lowered stress tolerance, elasticity, and strength of aged parts of the body can also lead to bursitis, where even just a little pressure on the joints of an old person can cause the inflammation of the bursa.

Lifting something repeatedly over your shoulders and leaning on your elbows for long periods are also probable causes of bursitis. Incorrect posture at home or work as well as failing to warm up and stretch properly before exercise can also lead to the condition. 

Less common possible causes are unusual reactions to some medications.  

The Bottom Line

Bursitis is a condition that happens to many people. It is very clear that many of the causes of bursitis are activities that can be avoided or controlled.

The pain from bursitis usually lessens after a few weeks of proper treatment. Recurrence, however, is quite common and can leave you feeling anguished. Every case of non-traumatic bursitis must be examined to determine the underlying cause. The reasons could vary from compromised gaits to diseases. The doctor will have blood tests done so that he can correctly diagnose the cause.

Bursitis, as the result of various possible reasons, will reoccur if not dealt with as soon as possible. After a comprehensive assessment, the doctor will recommend that the patient undergo an exercise program for biomechanical correction to solve the problem of bursitis quickly and stop it from recurring.