Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital



What is a bursa?

A bursa is a closed, fluid-filled sac that functions as a cushion and gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The major bursae are located adjacent to the tendons near the large joints, such as in the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. When the bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis.

Bursitis is usually a temporary condition. It may restrain motion, but generally does not cause deformity.

What causes bursitis?

The most common causes of bursitis are injury or overuse, although infection may also be a cause. Bursitis is also associated with other   causes such as arthritis, gout, tendinitis,diabetes, and thyroid disease.

What are the symptoms of bursitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of bursitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Bursitis can cause pain, localized tenderness, and limited motion. Swelling and redness may occur if the inflamed bursa is close to the surface (superficial).

Chronic bursitis may involve repeated attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness, which may lead to the deterioration of muscles and a limited range of motion.

The symptoms of bursitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Who is at risk for bursitis?

Bursitis most often occurs in people who are deconditioned, overweight, or older. Bursitis may also occur by overusing an affected limb, or by using an affected limb incorrectly.

What are the different types of bursitis?

Although bursitis can occur anywhere in the body where bursae are located, there are several specific types of bursitis, including the following:

How is bursitis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for bursitis may include the following:

Treatment for bursitis

Specific treatment for bursitis will be determined by your doctor based on:

The treatment of any bursitis depends on whether or not it involves infection.

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