Joint Pain? It Could Be Bursitis

Bursitis is a common problem that can affect anyone whose daily habits put extra pressure on a joint. If you engage in intense training or sports activities, your chances of developing bursitis are even higher. Many people who come to Space City Pain Specialists for help with joint pain are surprised to learn that bursitis is their underlying problem. 

Basic facts about bursitis

Every time your joints move, the connective tissues supporting the joint ― the tendons, ligaments, and muscles ― and the skin outside the joint must glide over the bones. They’re only able to glide smoothly thanks to little sacs of fluid called bursae.

Each bursa is like a tiny water balloon lodged between bones and soft tissue. Each bursa creates a cushion and reduces friction between two surfaces so you can use your joints without pain.

For such an important job, your bursae are amazingly simple structures. Each one consists of a membrane, called the synovial membrane, and it encloses a few drops of slippery, lubricating synovial fluid. The problem is that the membrane is incredibly thin — just a few cells thick — which makes it very susceptible to damage.

Causes of bursitis

Bursitis occurs when the synovial membrane becomes irritated and inflamed. The inflammation can make the membrane thicken and produce more synovial fluid than normal. As a result, you can end up with a swollen bursa wedged into a tiny space in the affected joint, where it can cause symptoms, such as:

Bursitis is often caused by frequently performing the same movements, such as running, cycling, or stair climbing. Placing prolonged pressure on your joints ― such as by leaning on your elbows for a long time or spending lots of time kneeling ― can also increase your chances of developing bursitis.

You may also develop bursitis if you suffer a direct injury to a joint. Football, wrestling, and basketball are three of the top sports responsible for injuries that cause knee bursitis. Having an underlying inflammatory condition, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or ankylosing spondylitis, can also increase your chances of developing bursitis.

Joints most likely to have painful bursitis

With more than 150 bursae in joints throughout your body, you could develop this painful condition in nearly any joint. However, you’re more likely to feel bursitis pain in your shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and heel.

In most cases, bursitis can improve with conservative therapies, such as icing, activity modification, and physical therapy. However, some cases of bursitis can lead to an infection and cause a serious condition called septic bursitis. Septic bursitis ― which can give you a fever, make you feel generally ill, and cause your skin to be red and warm to the touch ― needs prompt treatment with antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading.

If you want to see if you have bursitis or get treatment if you do, book an appointment online or over the phone with Space City Pain Specialists today.

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