Bursitis is inflammation of the small fluid-filled pads (bursae) that cushion bones from muscles, tendons, and skin. Bursitis can be caused by overuse or injury to a joint. People commonly get bursitis in the knee, shoulder, and elbow, or in joints that perform repetitive movements. Most cases of bursitis are not serious and can be treated with rest. However, if pressure continues to be placed on joints, flare-ups may occur.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Bursitis can cause swollen, stiff, or achy joints. Excessive pain or swelling, rash, and fever may signal a more serious condition. Bursitis is diagnosed with a physical exam and imaging tests, which can rule out other causes of pain. Blood tests can also be done to detect infection.


Bursitis is caused by repetitive motions and prolonged pressure on a joint. Kneeling, leaning on elbows, and prolonged sitting can all cause bursitis. Strenuous activity and activities that require repeated motions, such as lifting boxes or tennis, can also cause bursitis. People are more likely to get bursitis if they are older or have a chronic condition, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes.


The best way to prevent bursitis is to avoid overusing or placing pressure on joints. People who perform repetitive movements should take frequent breaks to relieve joints. When kneeling, a mat should be used. Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent stress on joints, and exercise, paired with proper stretching, can strengthen muscles.


Bursitis can usually be treated at home with rest, pain medications, and ice to reduce swelling. If the pain does not get better, a doctor may recommend physical therapy or a corticosteroid injection to instantly relieve inflammation. Some bursitis is caused by infection, in which case a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.In cases where all other treatments have failed, bursae can be surgically drained or removed.

More Information

KidsHealth: http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/sports/bursitis.html#

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bursitis/DS00032/DSECTION=prevention

Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bursitis.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bursitis