Healthy Living

What Is Bursitis: Get the Facts

What Is Bursitis: Get the Facts

Key Takeaways

  • A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that is found in the joints. 
  • Bursitis will cause pain in your joints as a result of inflammation of the bursa. 
  • Bursitis is usually treated with antibiotics, but if the tendon is torn, surgery is definitely required.

There are conditions that we experience or live with in our life. Moreover, we tend to assume that most of them are normal or of no much importance. Some of these conditions or feelings in our bodies may later cause bigger problems and it is necessary to understand them and their sources. It is also good to know how to deal with them. One of these conditions is bursitis.

What is bursitis?

When we talk about bursitis, we are referring to a condition that causes irritation of the tissues close to a joint in your body. Some of these areas can be on the bones, tendons, muscles, or the skin. Bursitis will cause pain in your joints as a result of inflammation of the bursa. The pain is not severe but increases with time if not attended to.

What is a bursa?

In every part of the human body where there are joints, either connecting muscles, tendons, bones, or skin, you will find a bursa. They are all over the human body. Basically, a bursa is a fluid-filled sac that is found in the joints. The bursa acts as a cushion in the joints preventing shock or stress. This fluid helps reduce friction due to the pressure produced in the joints during the movement of muscles or bones, like when you are moving your shoulders.

Where are bursae found in the body?

Bursae are very small tissues that are found in many parts of the human body, which also means that you can experience bursitis in the different parts of your body. Moreover, there are up to 160 bursae in your body. The most common regions where there are bursae that can be affected include the following:

1. Shoulder

There are two types of bursitis that can affect the shoulder. They are:

  • Biceps tendinitis - pain is caused in front of the shoulder or on the side of the shoulder. The pain is sometimes observed until the raising of the hand above the head makes it difficult. Activities such as swinging of the racket or pitching a ball will become difficult.
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis - pain is observed at the top of the shoulder and in the upper arm. Performing any simple activities such as pushing and pulling becomes difficult. Even lying on the side to sleep may worsen the pain.

2. Elbow

There are 2 types of elbow injuries:

  • Tennis elbow: in this type of elbow injury, the outer tendon is injured. Pain in the elbow can travel to the upper arm or forearm.
  • Golfer's elbow: the inner tendon of the elbow is affected.

Any activity that involves wrist movements such as shaking hands and hand gripping when using a tool becomes difficult to perform.

3. Ankle

An overuse of the ankle causes Achilles tendonitis. The ankle can become swollen, stretched, or even tear. It usually occurs in athletes, sports enthusiasts, soldiers, and older people who strain their already weak calf muscle. Overuse of the calf muscle with activities such as climbing stairs, jumping, and jogging can cause further damage. It is a long-term condition, which requires plenty of rest for its healing.

4. Knee

The overuse of the tendons with activities such as running, bicycling, or dancing can lead to swollen, stretched, or torn tendons of the knees. It is usually common in older people whose tendons are already weak, and those who are involved in sports that require lots of knee movements like basketball. The overuse of the muscle and the force of hitting the ground on jumping can further stress the tendons causing them to either tear or swell.

5. Hip

There are 2 types of bursitis that can occur near the hips:

  • Buttocks: the condition is called ischiogluteal bursitis. It is caused due to an inflammation or tissue damage of the ischiogluteal bursa because of activities like kicking, jumping, or prolonged sitting on a hard surface. Pain and stiffness are experienced in the lower buttocks.
  • Thigh: the condition is called trochanteric bursitis, where pain is observed in the upper thighs.

Have you ever asked yourself how the joints and other tissues in your body such as the tendons are able to move smoothly against each other? Or what makes it easy for your shoulder to rotate easily without friction?

Bursae are important throughout the body system, which allows smooth movements of different tissues in the body. However, bursae are specially made to help prevent friction and rubbing of tissues. The bursae are made of a lining that is made up of synovial cells.

The synovial cells are the core cells involved in the lubrication of tissues around an area, may it be the knee, hip, or any other parts of the body. They produce a special lubricating substance that acts as a cushion, reduces friction, and also makes movement between tissues easy throughout your life.

How does bursitis develop?

Whenever a part of your body suffers from bursitis, it is difficult to identify. The condition results from the swelling and inflammation of the bursa. Once inflammation occurs, it causes pain in the area when joints or tissues rub against each other, making it no longer possible to prevent friction. An inflamed bursa mostly turns red as well as an increase in the fluid contained in the bursa.

There are some parts of your body that have high chances of suffering from bursitis due to their functions. They can include the hips, shoulders, elbow, and other parts involved in motion and stress due to work or any other activities.

Can bursitis be prevented?

There are a number of activities that can help prevent bursitis. They include:

  • stretching before doing any type of exercise
  • strengthening the joints
  • practicing good posture
  • not overusing the muscles and taking regular breaks

Bursitis is usually treated with antibiotics, but if the tendon is torn, surgery is definitely required.

The Bottom Line

People who are mostly involved in heavy work or vigorous movement of their body tissues are likely to suffer from bursitis. These people may include carpenters, swimmers, and athletes. Nevertheless, any person can experience bursitis. However, bursitis is a condition that can be treated.