Causes of Bursitis
Bursitis is the inflammation of one or more bursae (small sacs) of synovial fluid in the body. The bursae rest at the points where internal functionaries, such as muscles and tendons, slide across bone. Healthy bursae create a smooth, almost frictionless functional gliding surface making normal movement painless. When bursitis occurs, however, movement relying upon the inflamed bursa becomes difficult and painful. Moreover, movement of tendons and muscles over the inflamed bursa aggravates its inflammation, perpetuating the problem.
The number varies, but most people have about 160 bursae throughout the body. Bursae are lined with special cells called synovial cells, which secrete a fluid rich in collagen and proteins. This synovial fluid acts as a lubricant when parts of the body move. When this fluid becomes infected by bacteria or irritated because of too much movement, the painful condition known as bursitis results.
What causes bursitis?
Bursitis usually results from a repetitive movement or due to prolonged and excessive pressure. Patients who rest on their elbows for long periods or those who bend their elbows frequently and repetitively (for example, a custodian using a vacuum for hours at a time) can develop elbow bursitis, also called olecranon bursitis. Similarly in other parts of the body, repetitive use or frequent pressure can irritate a bursa and cause inflammation.
Predisposing factors include diabetes, alcoholism, steroid therapy, uremia, trauma, and skin disease. A history of noninfectious inflammation of the bursa also increases the risk of septic bursitis.
Shoulder. Bursitis of the shoulder often results from injury to the rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade. Causes of the injury may include falling, lifting and repetitive overhead arm activities. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the pain caused by bursitis and that caused by a rotator cuff injury.
Signs and symptoms
An area that feels swollen or warm to the touch
Occasional skin redness in the area of the inflamed bursa
Pain and tenderness are common symptoms. If the affected joint is close to the skin, as with the shoulder, knee, elbow, or Achilles tendon, swelling and redness are seen and the area may feel warm to the touch. The bursae around the hip joint are deeper, and swelling is not obvious.
How Is Bursitis Treated?
Your doctor can also prescribe medications to reduce the inflammation. Corticosteroids, also known as “steroids,” are often used because they work quickly to decrease the inflammation and pain. Steroids are also one of the safest treatment methods and can be injected directly at the site of injury. Unfortunately, 30% of people may not get complete relief from one injection and 2% of people may even get worse.
Sometimes, your doctor may recommend physical therapy or exercises to strengthen the muscles in the area. Additionally, your doctor may inject a corticosteroid drug into the bursa to relieve inflammation. This treatment generally brings immediate relief and, in many cases, one injection is all you’ll need.Anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or over-the-counter nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or indomethacin can often be helpful. If the cause of the bursitis is bacterial, antibiotics will be administered.