Bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when the bursa becomes swollen and inflamed. The bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that cushions the bones, tendons and muscles around the joints. Bursitis most often occurs near joints that perform recurring activities. The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee.
If an individual experiences bursitis, their affected joint may:
- Feel achy or stiff
- Feel painful
- Look swollen and red
The most common causes of bursitis are taking part in physical activities that involve a lot of repetitive movement that irritate the bursae around a joint. Examples include:
- Extensive kneeling for tasks such as carpet fitting or gardening
- Certain sports such as running and baseball
- Leaning on elbows for long periods
- Prolonged sitting, particularly on hard surfaces
- Other causes include injury or trauma to the affected area, gout, infection and inflammatory arthritis
Anyone can develop bursitis, but certain factors may increase risk:
- Bursitis becomes more common with aging.
- If an individual’s work performance or hobby requires repetitive movement and pressure on particular bursae, the risk of developing bursitis increases. Examples include gardening, carpet fitting, tile plastering, painting, running, playing baseball or darts etc.
- Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes increase the risk of developing bursitis.
While not all types of bursitis can be prevented, an individual can reduce risk by altering the way they execute certain tasks. Examples include:
- Bending the knees when lifting
- Using kneeling pads to reduce the pressure on the knees during a work performance or hobby that requires a lot of kneeling
- Using a dolly instead of putting stress on the shoulders by lifting heavy loads
- Taking breaks in between activities
- Walking around instead of staying in one place for too long, especially on hard surfaces
- Warming up and stretching before demanding activities to project joints from injuries
- Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising properly to strengthen muscles