Bursitis – What Is It And How Can I Fix It?

I’ve been told I have bursitis, now what? 

The dreaded diagnosis – bursitis! You might have been told by a doctor, a physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, or even the radiographer taking the scan that you have bursitis. But what does that really mean? A quick cortisone injection and you’ll be all fixed? Just a few days of anti-inflammatories? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple!

Bursitis literally refers to inflammation of the bursa.  The bursa is a little sack of fluid that sits around/within joints. These bursae are normal within our body and we have over 150 bursae (plural of one bursa) located all around our bodies, from our knees to our hips, and up to our shoulders! The role of the bursa in the body is pretty simple – it is to provide lubrication for a joint and allow a tendon to slide or glide easier over the bone they lie adjacent to. They are fluid filed sacs and so therefore allow for compression at times too. “Bursitis” occurs, generally, when the bursa has been compressed, or stretched beyond its normal capacity for an extended period. This then causes the sac to swell and send off inflammatory markers to the rest of the body to flag its irritation. 

It sounds simple enough to inject cortisone, a strong anti-inflammatory steroid, straight into the bursa and reduce its irritation. However, this is fraught with risk. Not only the potential side effects of the steroid drug which include thinning of nearby tendons from prolonged use, but also infection risk. Not to mention, if all we do is refer on to a doctor to reduce the inflammation, we have not resolved the structural reason as to why the bursa has become inflamed in the first place! Do you have bursitis in your shoulder? Find out why the shoulder is compressing your subacromial bursa, then address that! Hip bursitis? Strengthen the glutes to stop that compression!

The front line of treatment for bursitis is physiotherapy management. This will typically include a series of stretches to open up the compressed area, and strengthening exercises to prevent the bursitis from coming back. Your physio will help to alleviate any tight muscles that may be contributing to the compression of the bursa with a range of techniques that may include passive stretching, massage, dry needling – just to name a few! On some indications, there may be good indication for short term use of anti-inflammatories to relieve pain and allow your rehabilitation to progress. But don’t forget – this is not the solution. Bursitis can be a condition that can easily last for months unless managed properly. So if you have unresolved hip, knee, shoulder or any other joint pain – don’t live with it! Seek the help and guidance from one of our physiotherapists here at Instinct Health today!

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Bursitis – What Is It And How Can I Fix It?