Health Insurance Plans starting at Rs.15/day*

Health Insurance Plans starting at Rs.15/day*

What is bursitis?

Bursitis is a health condition that causes swelling of fluid-filled sacs called the bursa. Bursa is kind of a cushion that prevents the rubbing of bone in the muscles, tendons and skin. 

This helps you in reducing the possible friction caused by your bones on the muscles. Thus, in turn, reduces inflammation as well. The fluid in the bursae sacs provides the necessary lubrication to avoid friction.

Bursae (plural form of bursa) are present in many places of our body. Yet, most often, bursitis occurs along the joints. It commonly occurs along the hips, shoulders, and elbows. 

It is also not uncommon for bursitis to occur along with the knees, in the bottom of your big toe, or heels. Mostly, the discomfort and pain due to bursitis go away after a few weeks, but recurrences are still more common. 

What are the types of bursitis?

Bursae are located throughout your body. There are around 150 spots where bursae are situated. However, not all places are affected by bursitis. It mainly occurs around, but not limited to:

  • Shoulders (subacromial bursitis)
  • Elbows (olecranon bursitis)
  • Heels (retrocalcaneal bursitis)
  • Knees (prepatellar bursitis)
  • Hips (trochanteric/iliopectineal bursitis)
  • Buttocks (ischial bursitis)
  • Feet (name changes based on the location)

Based on the area it affects, bursitis is classified into the above types.

When bursitis occurs around joints, it is also called miner’s or barfly’s elbow. Similarly, the housemaid’s knee is the other name for bursitis in the knees. 

What are the causes of bursitis?

Repetitive motion in some of your body parts is the main cause of bursitis. For example, a bowler in cricket has chances of getting bursitis as their hands make the same motion repeatedly.  

However, not everyone who indulges in doing repetitive actions develops this condition. 

There are different sets of causes that give rise to different types of bursitis:

Prepatellar bursitis

It is a type of bursitis that develops along your knees. This happens because of the damaging or tearing of the bursae in the knees. Some possible causes include:

  • Indulging in sports-related activities
  • Bending your knees again and again
  • Bleeding in bursae due to some accident
  • Staying on knees or kneeling for a long time

Trochanteric bursitis

This type of bursitis occurs in your hips due to the following reasons:

  • Some sort of hip injury
  • Having an improper posture both while standing and sitting

Olecranon bursitis

When bursitis affects your elbows, such type is called olecranon bursitis. The possible causes are:

  • Repeated resting of elbows on hard surfaces
  • Severe blow to the back of your elbows
  • Due to infection or gout

Retrocalcaneal bursitis

This type of bursitis affects your heels. The common causes are:

  • Repetitive running or jumping
  • By performing repetitive leg exercises 
  • Doing physically demanding exercises without warming up
  • Wearing tight shoes

Septic (infectious) bursitis

This type of bursitis occurs due to infections, usually from bacteria. It causes inflammation or swelling of the bursa. It is mainly caused due to the entering of bacteria into the bursa through open wounds or cuts. 

It also occurs due to certain skin infections such as cellulitis. In some cases, infections in blood or joints also give rise to septic bursitis.

Shoulder bursitis

It is one of the most common areas where bursitis generally occurs. It is also called subacromial bursitis. 

It occurs mainly due to repetitive movement of your shoulders. Lifting heavy weight suddenly can also lead to shoulder bursitis. 

People engage in building activities, painters, carpenters and sportspersons are some of the common groups of people who contract this type of bursitis. 

What are the symptoms of bursitis?

Since bursitis commonly affects joints, you are most likely to experience stiffness and other discomforts around those areas. Bursitis symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness along joints
  • Limited mobility of shoulders, knees and hips
  • Swelling and redness of the skin 
  • In case of infections, fever and chills

Bursitis makes it hard to walk and bend your knees and arms. You may also feel sudden shock or sharp pain in the affected areas.  

Mostly, the symptoms go away in some time. But there are chances that they occur again. 

How is bursitis diagnosed?

Doctors usually diagnose bursitis by physically examining the affected areas. In some cases, doctors also prescribe an X-ray or ultrasound to be taken out of the affected areas. 

They also collect blood samples and samples from the affected area to diagnose this condition. 

In the case of infectious bursitis, doctors may recommend needle aspiration for diagnosis. But this diagnosis may not be suitable for all types of bursitis. 

For instance, performing needle aspiration on a person affected by olecranon bursitis can increase the risk of secondary infections. 

How is bursitis treated?

Taking rest is the foremost treatment for bursitis. The other treatments include medications and placing an ice pack on joints. 

In case of bursitis out of infection, doctors may recommend taking antibiotics. To relieve you from pain and control inflammation and swelling, doctors prescribe corticosteroids, provided there are no infections. 

In some rare circumstances, doctors also recommend physical therapy. In some severe cases, doctors recommend surgery to remove the affected bursa. 

How to prevent bursitis?

Some lifestyle changes can help you in minimising its chances of occurrence. 

  • Keep a healthy weight. Oftentimes, being overweight puts the knees under stress that may lead to bursitis
  • Regularly exercising your muscles and joints
  • While performing frequent tasks, take periodic breaks
  • Do warm-up before starting any kind of workout
  • Use knee pad in your task requires you to kneel for a long time
  • While lifting weights, bend your knees a bit to avoid strain in the joints

An outlook

Often, we may confuse bursitis with arthritis. Although both health conditions affect joints, there is a stark difference between these two. 

Arthritis is a health condition caused by wear and tear on the cartilage that is situated on the ends of bones. This causes permanent damage. On the other hand, bursitis does not cause permanent damage if you take proper care. 

If you have contracted bursitis, take the necessary precautions and treatments, and go see your doctor if the symptoms worsen. 

By changing your lifestyle that may cause possible damage to your body, you can highly prevent this condition. 


1. What is the best way to treat bursitis? 

Taking rest is the best way to treat bursitis. Some other treatments involve medications including antibiotics and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling.

2. How long does it take for bursitis to go away?

There is no specific time for the symptoms and effects to remain. If you give rest to the area that gets affected, bursitis will go away after some time. 

3. Is bursitis serious? 

Bursitis is not a life-threatening health condition. However, it causes discomfort and pain, thus reducing your mobility and ability to perform certain tasks. 

4. What happens if bursitis is left untreated?

Bursitis, if left untreated, may worsen the symptoms and can lead to severe discomfort and pain. You do not always require taking medications and steroids, but taking a rest itself is the best treatment for bursitis. 

5. Is walking good for bursitis? 

If you develop knee bursitis, running and jumping may worsen the situation. At such times, slow and proper walking may not be a problem if you want some physical activity. For other bursitis types, light walking can be okay. But in no case can walking cure bursitis. If you feel discomfort after walking, maybe you should give it a break.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top