Bursitis

Have you ever heard these old school names for a certain medical condition? Student’s Elbow. Tailor’s Bottom. Housemaid’s Knee. Probably not.

But you’ve heard of bursitis. The definition of bursitis is inflammation of the bursa. That sounds innocuous enough, but bursitis can be quite painful. Dr. Moore often treats bursitis in the hips and knees with corticosteroid injections to calm the inflammation.

What Is a Bursa?

The human body has over 140 bursae. These are small, thin, slippery sacs filled with fluid. The bursae are located near our joints. Their job is to reduce friction between our bones and the surrounding soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, even skin).

Each bursa is a sac with an outer membrane called the synovial membrane. Inside the sac is synovial fluid, which is a lubricating fluid.

Bursae are usually categorized by the tissue they are next to. If the bursa is between the skin and a bone, it’s the subcutaneous bursa. A subtendinous bursa would be found between a bone and a tendon.

Inflammation

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae. When this happens from overuse or other causes, the bursa’s lining thickens, and more synovial fluid may be produced. Now the bursa will swell. It can become several times its normal size.

Causes of Inflammation

You can usually point to one of three causes for this inflammation: irritation, friction, or trauma to the bursa.

  • Irritation — Putting pressure on a bursa repeatedly can lead to bursitis. If you’re a desk jockey and you lean on your elbows all day at work, you can develop elbow bursitis.
  • Friction — Repetitive motions, such as bending your knee when running or walking, can lead to excess friction and this causes inflammation.
  • Trauma — With trauma, a bursa may temporarily fill with blood. This creates swelling and irritation of the synovial lining.

Symptoms

Except in cases of trauma, bursitis usually develops gradually. These are the symptoms:

  • Swelling — This happens when the inflamed bursa fills with fluid.
  • Pain — Pain occurs in the bursa and nearby soft tissues.
  • Tenderness — Pressing on the skin above the inflamed bursa is painful.
  • Stiffness — The inflammation can impact movement in a joint.
  • Skin redness and warmth — This can be a sign of bursa inflammation.

If you’re having signs of bursitis in one of your joints, Dr. Moore can help. Give us a call at Pinehurst Surgical, (910) 295-0224, to schedule an appointment.

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