What is bursitis?
Bursitis is the inflammation or irritation of the bursa. The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid, located between tissues such as bone, muscle, tendons, and skin, that decreases rubbing, friction, and irritation.
What Causes Bursitis?
Bursitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the area, or from a sudden, more serious injury. Age also plays a role. As tendons age they are able to tolerate stress less, are less elastic, and are easier to tear.
Overuse or injury to the joint at work or play can also increase a person’s risk of bursitis. Examples of high-risk activities include gardening, raking, carpentry, shoveling, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing and pitching. Incorrect posture at work or home and poor stretching or conditioning before exercise can also lead to bursitis.
An abnormal or poorly placed bone or joint (such as length differences in your legs or arthritis in a joint) can put added stress on a bursa sac, causing bursitis. Stress or inflammation from other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders, or unusual medication reactions may also increase a person’s risk. In addition, an infection can occasionally lead to inflammation of a bursa.
What are bursas?
Bursa, plural bursas or bursae, within the mammalian body, any small pouch or sac between tendons, muscles, or skin and bony prominences at points of friction or stress. The bursas are classified by type as adventitious, subcutaneous, or synovial. Adventitious, or accidental, bursas arise in soft tissues as a result of repeated subjections to unusual shearing stresses, particularly over bony prominences. Subcutaneous bursas ordinarily are ill-defined clefts at the junction of subcutaneous tissue and deep fasciae (sheets of fibrous tissue); these bursas acquire a distinct wall only when they become abnormal, and they are sometimes classified as adventitious. Synovial bursas are thin-walled sacs that are interposed between tissues such as tendons, muscles, and bones and are lined with synovial membrane. In humans a majority of synovial bursas are located near the large joints of the arms and legs.
Anatomy of the elbow
To understand how a bursa can affect ROM, strength and general participation in sports/physical activities its better to discuss the general anatomy and where those bursas are situated. Most of the bursae in the body are synovial: thin-walled sacs interposed between bones, muscles, and tendons. The lining of a bursa contains a capillary layer of synovial fluid, which provides two lubricated surfaces that enable freedom of movement. Synovial bursae tend to be located in your joints, like your knees, feet, hip, elbow and shoulders.
When in anatomical position there are four main bony landmarks of the elbow. At the lower part of the humerus are the medial and lateral epicondyles, on the side closest to the body (medial) and on the side away from the body (lateral) surfaces. The third landmark is the olecranon found at the head of the ulna.
What Are the Symptoms of Bursitis?
The most common symptom of bursitis is pain. The pain may build up gradually or be sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present. Severe loss of motion in the shoulder — called “adhesive capsulitis” or frozen shoulder — can also result from the immobility and pain associated with shoulder bursitis.
How Is Bursitis Treated?
Bursitis can be treated in a number of ways, including:
• Avoiding activities that aggravate the problem
• Resting the injured area
• Icing the area the day of the injury
• Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines
Physical therapy is another treatment option that is often used. This includes range-of-motion exercises and splinting (thumb, forearm, or bands). Surgery, although rarely needed, may be an option when bursitis does not respond to the other treatment options.