What can trigger bursitis?

Answered by James Kissner

Bursitis can be triggered by a variety of factors, with the most common being injury or overuse of a joint. This often occurs when the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint, becomes irritated or inflamed. Repetitive motions or activities that put excessive stress on the joint, such as throwing a baseball or kneeling for long periods of time, can lead to bursitis.

In addition to injury and overuse, bursitis can also be caused by infection. When bacteria enters the bursa, it can lead to an infection known as septic bursitis. This can occur if the bursa is punctured or if bacteria spreads from another nearby infection. People with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, are more prone to developing septic bursitis.

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing bursitis. Age is one such factor, as the bursa tend to become less elastic and more prone to inflammation with age. Occupations or activities that involve repetitive motions or prolonged pressure on a joint, such as construction work or gardening, can also increase the risk of bursitis. Poor posture or muscle imbalances can put added stress on joints, leading to bursitis.

Sometimes, bursitis can occur without an obvious cause. This is known as idiopathic bursitis, and the exact reason for its development is unknown. It may be related to underlying conditions such as autoimmune disorders or crystal deposition diseases, but more research is needed to fully understand these connections.

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of bursitis in order to seek appropriate treatment. The most common symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness near the affected joint. The area may also feel warm to the touch and movement of the joint can be limited or painful. If an infection is present, symptoms may include fever, chills, and redness or warmth at the site of the bursa.

Treatment for bursitis typically involves rest and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition. Applying ice packs or warm compresses to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can provide relief from pain and swelling. In more severe cases, a healthcare professional may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.

If an infection is suspected, antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the underlying infection. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics to prevent recurrence or complications. In some cases, the bursa may need to be drained of fluid using a needle and syringe to relieve pressure and aid in healing.

Prevention of bursitis involves taking steps to avoid injury and overuse of joints. This can include practicing proper body mechanics, using protective equipment, and taking regular breaks during repetitive activities. Strengthening and stretching exercises can also help improve joint stability and flexibility, reducing the risk of bursitis.

Bursitis can be triggered by injury, overuse, or infection. Recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate treatment is important for managing the condition. Taking preventive measures can also help reduce the risk of developing bursitis.