What is it? Bursa are small “Jelly Bean” like cushions found inside and around our joints that are filled with synovial fluid (the same fluid in our joints that acts as a lubricant). They are found through the body, but the most concentrated in the big movable joints such as the shoulder, elbow, hip and Knee. The purpose of these “Jelly Bean” like cushions is to absorb friction between bones and tendons of the joint – preventing rubbing on each other during movement. In times of excess friction (such as during prolonged exercise or after a fall where the burse is squashed too violently), these cushions can become irritated and inflamed. “ITIS” is the termed used to describe conditions of inflammation in the body – therefore, when a particular bursa is inflamed from injury of overuse, it is called ‘Shoulder Bursitis’ or ‘Knee Bursitis’. Each specific Bursa in a joint will then create its own pattern of pain and referral which helps the practitioner decide what treatments are best and what movements to avoid until the irritation can settles down. Symptoms; A common theme with patients suffering from bursitis a constant (4 out of 10) dull ache pain in or around the affected joint that can be difficult to pin point. This pain can become a sharp/stabbing on certain movements or aggravated when lying on the joint in bed at night. Causes; As noted above, bursitis is most often caused by repetitive motions or a fall/hit/or bump to the area that irritates and inflames the bursa. However, it can also occur after an infection or inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Treatment; Identifying the activity or injury mechanism the lead to the Burstits in a particular area is very important in the recovery and prevention re-aggravating factors when treating bursitis. A successful treatment can be undone by a repetitive activity at work, or a sporting activity etc. This will likely hinder recovery and slow it down. Some common causes that must be managed are –
- Try different work technique/ change hand used or posture positions, if your job requires repetitive tasks, and ensure you are taking frequent periods of rest.
- If constant kneeling, such a building, painting etc, utilise knee pads
- Use good manual lifting techniques. Incorrect techniques increase the load on hips and knees, which can irritate the bursa.
- Maintain a healthy weight and strengthen around the muscles of the joint. Reduced weight takes excess load off your joints (including the Bursa) and gradual strength exercise overtime toughens the bursa making them less prone to injury.