Do you feel pain in the thighs when climbing up the stairs, knees when walking, shoulders when trying to reach something overhead or elbows when bending for playing etc.? These are all signs of a condition called ‘bursitis’ which is not much known in terms of its name but generally experienced by people who follow a tremendously active lifestyle. Get to know more about bursitis and its causes, symptoms and treatment.
The spaces between bones, tendons and muscles are occupied by fluid-filled sacs called bursae which are lined with synovial cells which produce a liquid that lubricates and cushions the joint movement. Sometimes, due to overuse, infection or injury, the bursae become swollen. There are around 160 bursae in the human body. Bursae of shoulders, elbow, ankle, knee, buttocks, hip and thigh are the ones which gets affected. Athletes, tennis players, golfers and others involved in active sports are found to be more vulnerable to bursitis.
Bursitis is characterized by pain, tenderness, swelling, redness and loss of mobility. Those suffering from bursitis find it very difficult to move the affected body part for example, walking, climbing, lifting objects and bending down becomes a challenge. Septic bursitis which is caused by infection is accompanied with fever and the affected area also feels hot when touched.
Ageing and rigorous physical exercise puts a person at higher risk of bursitis along with those who suffer from chronic health conditions like diabetes. There are three main factors responsible for bursitis in a person – injury, infection and chronic health conditions. Injury to bursae at various points may occur due to repetitive movement, kneeling down, lifting heavy things overhead, excessive walking or wearing wrong shoes. Infection by Staphylococcus aureus or S. epidermis is responsible for septic bursitis which occurs in individuals whose immune system is weakened by diabetes, HIV/AIDS, excessive consumption of alcohol or steroids and cancer. Chronic health conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma leads to formation of crystals in bursae.
Treatment of bursitis involves padding the bursae to protect it from any further injury, giving adequate rest to the affected part and using cold compresses with ice packs to reduce pain and inflammation. Usually inflamed bursae get healed within 2-3 weeks with rest and protection. However, doctors may also prescribe medication or surgery for severe cases. Many patients tell that bursitis recur if the proper care is not taken so ensure you warm up and stretch before any kind of exercise as well as take breaks during intense physical work.