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What is Bursitis
Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac between muscles or between muscles and bone that protects tissues from friction during movement. Bursitis is a common condition often associated with overuse of particular joints though the joints themselves are normal.
Casual terminology for bursitis often relates it to the activities that precipitate it, such as tennis elbow. Accidental falls and blunt blows over bursae may also cause bursitis, particularly of the deep bursae. Bursae near the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee are most often affected.
An adult has 130 to 160 bursae throughout the body, any of which may become inflamed.
The primary symptoms of bursitis are pain and swelling in the area of the involved bursa. When there is also fever, an infection may be the cause of the bursitis. Bursitis due to infection often requires surgical debridement (opening the bursa to remove damaged tissue and accumulated pus) and treatment with antibiotic medications.
Intermittent cold packs over the affected area during the first 48 hours of symptoms may slow inflammation and relieve pain. After 48 hours intermittent heat provides greater relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) further relieve inflammation and pain.
Most bursitis improves in two to six weeks with such treatment. The doctor may inject a steroid medication, alone or in combination with a local anesthetic agent, into a bursa that is causing severe or chronic pain and restricting range of motion.
Though resting the affected joint is helpful in the early stages when the bursitis is most uncomfortable, regular physical activity hastens healing and maintains full function of the joint.
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