Bursitis – What, Where and When?

Many bursae are situated throughout the body. Bursae are small sacs of fluid located in areas of increased friction: usually between a bone and a tendon. Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa and usually arises from repetitive stresses to the area. These stresses may be repeated movements of a joint whereby the bursa becomes irritated from overuse.  A direct blow to a bursa can also cause it to become inflamed due to bleeding.  The sub-acromial bursa (shoulder), the greater trochanteric bursa (hip), the ITB bursa at the knee and the retrocalcaneal bursa (Achilles) are the most common problematic bursae.  Local tenderness and swelling and pain with specific movements can be associated with bursitis.

Physiotherapists can help to diagnose bursitis through special tests and may refer to have an investigation performed to confirm or rule out involvement of a bursa. Physiotherapy can help cure bursitis by releasing stress and tension on surrounding structures, strengthen weak muscles/tendons which may not be coping with the demands placed on them, stretching tight surrounding structures, and giving advice on the use of
anti-inflammatory options. Occasionally, a persistent case of bursitis may need to be drained of its fluid via an injection.

By Todd Purser

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