Bursitis is a disease that affects joint capsules. They become inflamed. The disease is accompanied by an increased production and accumulation of synovial fluid in joint cavities. Bursitis can affect any of your joints. Even scapular and shoulder joints can be affected by this disease. For instance, subacromial bursitis is the most frequent cause of pain in your shoulders.
Symptoms of Bursitis and Its Diagnosis
Bursitis symptoms resemble the first signs of arthritis and therefore you can easily mix up these diseases. For example, trochanteric bursitis or hip bursitis symptoms are similar to those of hip osteoarthritis and they both result in pain in pelvis area. That is why if you have any pain in your joints, visit a doctor to make a correct diagnosis. The most common symptoms of bursitis include:
- pain in your joints. Most often bursitis affects knee or elbow joints;
- swelling and redness around the inflamed joint;
- limited range of motion;
- rise of temperature in the affected area.
Ischial bursitis manifests itself though dull pain in the upper buttock area, which becomes stronger when you climb upwards. Sometimes you can feel the pain after having sat on hard surfaces for a long time.
Nowadays specialists have a number of methods to diagnose bursitis. Among the possible ways to notice the first signs of bursitis are:
- examination by a surgeon;
- X-ray of the affected joint;
- ultrasonic scanning of your joint;
- joint puncture and further bacteriological examination of the synovial fluid.
Causes and symptoms of bursitis are more or less similar to those of arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The Course of the Disease
Doctors differentiate two forms of bursitis: acute and chronic.
Acute bursitis develops rapidly. You can have all the symptoms within 2-3 days. As a rule the disease starts suddenly. You wake up and notice redness, swelling and pain in your joint. Usually this happens after an intensive load on your joints or as a result of complication of an acute infection. Within the few following days the symptoms of bursitis increase and then they gradually decrease. If untreated, bursitis can become chronic.
Chronic bursitis develops gradually over several months. It can be a consequence of acute bursitis or appear independently on a background of any other inflammatory disease of bones and joints, such as arthritis, gout, pes valgus (deformity of foot). Chronic process can worsen leading to the increase of the amount of synovial fluid in the joint cavity. Infected joint has a rounded soft limited swelling, skin above the joint is mobile, without changes, the motion function of the affected limb is not affected.
Bursitis can lead to some complications. For example, chronic bursitis can result in cicatricial adhesions within the joint and decrease of its mobility. Adverse outcome of acute bursitis can occur when the disease is complicated by arthritis, osteomyelitis, fistulas or sepsis.
Causes and Prevention of Bursitis
Usual causes of bursitis include infection that somehow penetrates your joint capsule and mechanical overexertion of your joint capsule during its deformation or overloading. The risk of developing bursitis occurs under the following circumstances:
- damage of your joints;
- joint overloads. For example, too much walking, jumping or running can cause inflammation of your retrocalcaneal bursa that is located in the back of the ankle close to the heel;
- calcium deposits in your tendons;
- various arthritis and inflammation of your joints;
- sudden increase in physical activity.
Timely prevention of bursitis is very important. To avoid this disease you have to:
- treat infectious diseases in time;
- be moderate in your physical exercising;
- correct deformities of your joints, especially your feet joints.
Acute bursitis usually requires out-patient treatment. However, chronic bursitis may require hospitalization. Consult your doctor at the first signs of bursitis. You can address a traumatologist, an orthopedist or a surgeon. If you have acute pain, you should follow four main rules:
- Rest. Immobilize the affected joint. You can use bandages and other braces;
- Cold. Periodically you have to massage the affected area with an ice pack. Do it through a cloth;
- Compression. With the help of elastic bandages compression you can reduce pain;
- Elevation. It is advisable to keep the damaged joint in a raised position. For instance, if you have elbow bursitis, put your arm on pillows.
The treatment is aimed at infection control, prevention of complications, reducing the frequency of exacerbations. Doctors usually prescribe antimicrobial agents, anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. Your physician should determine the dosage of medication and the best way of intake on basis of your general condition and the characteristics of your disease. Bursitis is also treated with physical therapy and shock wave therapy. Septic bursitis is treated with antibiotics or oral outpatient therapy. Chronic bursitis can require surgery, if conservative treatment gives no results.