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You might be wondering what bursitis is. Well, it’s inflammation of the bursa. OK, so what’s a bursa? A bursa is a closed, fluid-filled sac that serves as both a cushion and a gliding surface to reduce friction between body tissues. The major bursae (plural of bursa) are located next to the tendons near large joints, such as the knees, shoulders, hips, and elbows.

By name alone, bursitis sounds like a pretty serious condition–and while it can definitely cause pain and discomfort, it’s not considered serious at all. In fact, it’s temporary and very treatable.

What Causes Bursitis?

There are different types of bursitis, and they’re generally caused by different things. Bursitis can occur near the Achilles tendon in the heel, caused by an injury or even the rigid back of a shoe. It can occur in the elbow, between the skin and bones, by simply leaning on a hard surface for an extended period of time.

Bursitis can turn up in the knees, especially in those whose occupation requires a lot of kneeling–carpenters, plumbers, floor installers. And it can happen in the hip, usually due to overuse or age. Bursitis can also be caused by infections or conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, tendonitis, gout, and arthritis.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Bursitis

While not everyone experiences the same symptoms, most people with bursitis feel some pain, limited motions, tenderness in the area of the inflammation, and possible swelling and redness if the affected bursa is near the skin’s surface. It’s difficult to self-diagnose bursitis, so you should see your doctor or physical therapist if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Your physician will most likely recommend some type of scan, such as an MRI, X-ray, or ultrasound, or diagnostics like a blood test. Additionally, your doctor may opt to remove fluid from the swollen bursa sac to determine the cause. He may also recommend physical therapy for treatment.

Treatment for Bursitis

Several treatment options are available, depending on the severity of the condition. The typical RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) can help alleviate the pain and swelling, as can over-the-counter pain medications, steroid injections, and even braces or splints to minimize movement in the affected area. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, the treatment could involve fluid removal via needle, antibiotics, or a bursectomy (surgical drainage or removal of the infected bursa).

If those steps don’t resolve the pain, physical therapy may be the next step.

Bursitis Physical Therapy

While physical therapy can help ease the pain and swelling of bursitis, it is actually an even more effective way to help prevent it from occurring at all. Physical therapy such as stretches, exercises with weights or resistance bands, and massage therapy can help strengthen the muscles around the affected area and improve flexibility. But perhaps even more importantly, a skilled physical therapist (like you’ll find at Physical Therapy NOW in Irving) will help you understand your bursitis, show you how to warm up properly before exercising, tell you what activity to avoid, and teach you exercises that you can do at home.

At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we’ll work with you to create a personalized treatment plan with the aim of getting you back to your normal activities–without pain–as quickly as possible. Call us today at (214) 225-0291 to schedule your initial consultation, and let’s team up to beat your bursitis.


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