Bursitis – symptoms, causes and treatment
Swelling, tenderness, and possible redness. A dull persistent ache that increases with movement. Immense pain in the affected area, which frequently limits motion. It most often occurs in shoulder joint and less often in the hip joint, in the elbows, or feet.
Bursitis is the inflammation of the liquid-filled sac, called a bursa, found within joints, muscles, tendons, and bones. These sacs normally help muscular movement occur. Overstimulation of the bursa causes the synovial membrane to produce excess fluid. This distends the bursa, which causes the discomfort.
Injury to the area is a common cause, but chilling of the area during the day, especially at night can also lead to it. Bursitis can also be caused by chronic overuse, calcium deposits in the bursa wall, reactions to certain foods or airborne allergies. In some instances, suddenly working tight muscles can do it; it is called a stretched muscle.
According to where it is centered, bursitis has many names: housemaid’s knee, tennis elbow, policeman’s heel, frozen shoulder, or beat knee. The lowly bunion (caused by friction in tight shoes) is also a form of bursitis. A bursa sac on the joint of the big toe becomes inflamed.
Athletes and older people are most likely to get bursitis, but it can happen to anyone at any age. What is the difference between bursitis and tendonitis (which see)? Both produce pain in the shoulder, etc.
Bursitis generally exhibits a dull persistent ache that increases with movement. Tendonitis causes a sharp pain during movement, and is most likely to be caused to over-reaching for something. But it can also be caused by calcium deposits pressing against a tendon. There is no swelling and fluid accumulation, as with bursitis. See “Tendonitis” for more on that problem.
• Initially give ice applications. Apply an ice pack for 30 minutes every 2-3 hours.
• As pain decreases, hot applications can be given. Heat should be applied for 45-60 minutes at a time. It should be as intense as can be tolerated. Hot castor oil packs are useful (see “Arthritis” for information on how to prepare them).
• Sometimes 10 minutes of hot, followed by 10 minutes of cold, applications seems to work best.
• Follow this with range of motion exercises at least once a day.
• Do not become chilled.
• Keep exercising, so joints will not lock up.
• Do not push yourself too hard or too long during the day. If you are in pain, stop.
• Sometimes rest and immobilization of the joint is needed for a time.
• Vitamin E is beneficial in the treatment of bursitis. The need for protein and vitamins A and C increases during infection. Vitamin B12 is also helpful.
• DMSO from a health food store will help. Apply it to the skin of the affected area.