Bursae are fluid filled sacs found in your body where bones or joints might rub together. They act to cushion the surfaces. The fluid inside a bursa (called synovial cells) also lubricates these areas.

Sometimes bursa become inflamed - especially in patients who perform repetitive activities. This is called bursitis. Areas of the body that commonly develop bursitis are:

  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Ankle
  • Thigh

What are the symptoms of bursitis?

Symptoms of bursitis can include swelling, tenderness and loss of movement in the affected area as well as dull ache during movement. In severe cases symptoms may include fever, chills, broken skin over the bursa or infection under the skin (called septic bursitis). Contact your GP if you have severe bursitis symptoms.

How is bursitis treated?

Your GP can diagnose bursitis. They will examine the area and may take a small sample of the fluid in the inflamed area to be examined in a laboratory.

Many times bursitis can be treated with over the counter pain relief like paracetamol. Resting and avoiding strenuous activity can also help. Ice pack will help reducing the swelling. Be sure and wrap a towel around the ice pack before applying it and apply it for 10 – 20 minutes every few hours.

If your swelling is very severe your GP may recommend aspiration. A fine needle will be used to draw the fluid out of the swollen area. This often improves the range of motion in your joint and reduces pain.

Severe cases that do not respond to treatment may require injection of corticosteroid to reduce inflammation or antibiotics to eliminate infection.

If your symptoms do not improve after two months your GP may refer you to a specialist consultant.

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