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A Look at Isolated and Recurring Bursitis

Written by Courteney

Posted on August 28, 2016 at 1:34 am

Bursitis and tendonitis are both soft tissue rheumatic syndromes categorized by a pattern of pain and inflammation along a particular tendon or bursa and within the soft tissues around bones, muscles and cartridge. Both are quite common conditions and can be very painful afflictions. We checked out tendonitis in our last post, and now for a closer look at bursitis:

What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a condition whereby a bursa (a small, fluid-filled cushion between bone and surrounding structures) becomes irritates and inflamed.

What causes Bursitis?

  • Repetitive actions – Most often, people develop bursitis gradually from partaking in certain hobbies or careers that involve repetitive actions such as sports (like basketball), hammering, carving sculptures or playing musical instruments.
  • Infection – an infection in the surrounding area can lead to bursitis as well.
  • Trauma to the Bursa – an acute injury to the area which can damage the bursa exposing it to damage and inflammation which may develop into bursitis.

Types of Bursitis

According to the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH), the main types of bursitis are:

  • Trochanteric bursitis – this type affects the hip bursa, causing pain on the side of the hip down the outer thigh.
  • Subacromial bursitis – causes impingement on the bursa above the rotator cuff, which can cause pain and inflammation in the upper shoulder, down the upper part of the arm.
  • Ischial bursitis – sometimes caused by prolonged sitting, this type of bursitis (also known as ‘tailor’s seat’), affects the ischium, the bone at the base of the buttock.
  • Olecranon bursitis – located on the elbow, this bursa can be caused by injury, infection, an underlying disease or even leaning on an elbow.
  • Pes Anserinus bursitis – Just below the inner knee, this bursa can become inflamed through jogging, too much strain (being overweight or obese), pain may travel from inner knee to back of calf, worsening during sleep or climbing stairs.
  • Calcaneal bursitis – This bursa causes pain on the sole of the foot. Pain is usually felt up the heel when standing due to inflammation. It may be caused by excess weight, ill-fitting shoes or activity.
  • Prepatellar bursitis – this bursa is found on the kneecap and can be inflamed due to repetitive action, injury or underlying condition. Redness and inflammation may be present.
  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis – This bursa is at the back of the heel and is often associated with rheumatic conditions.

Treatment for Bursitis

Treatment for bursitis closely follows that of tendonitis, as outlined in our last article.

Can Recurrent Bursitis or Tendonitis Signal A Bigger Problem?

Yes. When bursitis or tendonitis is recurrent and present in different parts of the body it may signal a more elaborate underlying problem such as arthritis, connective tissue disease or a metabolic condition. These conditions occur more often in older people who have jobs or hobbies that require repetitive actions, like carpentry. If you have seen your physiotherapist for multiple bouts of tendonitis or bursitis in different areas of the body such as your shoulder one year, a wrist the next or your thumb joint soon after (particularly if you are a younger adult), you should ask your doctor about testing you for Rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, gout, or a connective tissue disease such as lupus. Metabolic conditions like diabetes may also result in recurrent tendonitis, possibly due to thickening of the tendons because of high blood sugar, or sparse blood flow to the tendons.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions or concerns about tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, or anything else – don’t hesitate to sign up today for a video conference with one of our highly qualified, board certified DocChat physicians!



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