What is Bursitis?

What is Bursitis?

In our bodies, we have little sacs called bursae near our joints, which cushion the muscles and tendons. Bursitis is a condition in which those tiny sacs become inflamed and can no longer protect the surrounding tissue. This cause the individual to experience a burning pain as he or she attempts to exercise that joint. While bursitis is more common in the shoulders, hips, and knees, it can also occur near the joints in the heel and toes. The condition is aggravated by frequent repetitive motions since these actions apply the same type of pressure over and over.


What are the Causes and Risk Factors for Bursitis?

While any repetitive action can cause bursitis to develop, certain activities are more likely to cause the condition. This is partly because these are activities we engage in more often, either for recreation or as a part of our jobs. One example is throwing a baseball or engaging in activities that involve repeatedly lifting the arms above the head. Frequently kneeling, or leaning on the elbows, can also cause bursitis to develop.

While repetitive motions are the most common causes of bursitis, they aren’t the only causes. Injuries and trauma to areas surrounding the joints can cause the bursae to become inflamed, as well. Inflammatory arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, can also instigate the condition. Severe infections and gout are other medical conditions that may cause bursitis to develop, even after the infection has been treated.

Factors that increase the risk of bursitis developing are:

  • Age – As we age, we become more susceptible to bursitis.
  • Manual labor occupations – Those who must perform the same physical actions day after day.
  • Illness and infection – Those more susceptible to infection have an increased likelihood of developing bursitis.


The Symptoms of Bursitis

As bursitis begins to develop, you may begin noticing early signs and symptoms. These include feeling aches or stiffness around the joints. The area may also start to look red, or it may begin to swell. Additionally, you may find that it’s more painful when you press on the joint or walk on it.

More severe symptoms of bursitis include:

  • More severe pain, which may be disabling
  • Inability to flex or move that joint
  • Severe swelling, redness, rash, or bruising of the area
  • Sharp, shooting pain in the area, especially during physical activity
  • A fever may sometimes develop


How is Bursitis Treated?

The professional staff at Arlington Podiatry Center will examine you to determine if bursitis is affecting the joints in your feet. This may involve medical imaging, such as X-rays, and blood tests. If you are diagnosed with bursitis, there are several treatment options your caregiver will discuss with you.

Medication is often prescribed in cases where the condition was caused by an infection. Antibiotics can reduce inflammation. Alternatively, physical therapy offers a more natural approach for alleviating the underlying inflammation. As the swelling goes down, the pain will be decreased, and the individual will experience improved range of motion.

In some cases, the doctor may prescribe the use of a cane or walker. This can help alleviate the pressure that’s causing the inflammation, which will also reduce the pain. This may be a preferred method by some, because it’s a natural way to resolve the situation. It can be combined with physical therapy, or other treatments, to help alleviate the condition more efficiently.

In rare cases, the professionals at Arlington Podiatry Center may recommend one of two types of surgery. The most common procedure involves draining the bursae, which will help reduce the inflammation. In very rare instances, the surgeon may remove the bursae altogether. This is typically reserved as a last resort.

If you believe you’re suffering from bursitis, the staff at Arlington Podiatry Center can help. An initial exam will help you understand more about your condition and the best treatment options available to you. Contact Arlington Podiatry Center at 703-820-1472, or visit their website, to schedule an appointment.