Bursitis and Tendonitis
What is Bursitis?
Bursitis is inflammation (swelling, heat) or irritation of a bursa. Bursae are small sacs between bone and other moving parts, such as muscles, skin or tendons. The bursa allows smooth gliding between moving parts.
What is Tendonitis (Tendinitis)?
Tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Tendons are thick, fibrous cords that connect muscles to bone. They send the power caused by a muscle contraction to move a bone.
Some common names for various tendonitis problems are:
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Pitcher’s shoulder
- Swimmer’s shoulder
- Jumper’s knee
Tendonitis is more common in people whose jobs involve:
- Repetitive motions
- Awkward positions
- Frequent overhead reaching
- Forceful exertion
What are the Symptoms of Tendonitis and Bursitis?
Tendons and bursae are located near joints. Inflamed soft tissues will often be felt by patients as joint pain. This will be mistaken for arthritis. Symptoms of bursitis and tendonitis are similar. They include pain and stiffness that gets worse when moving. Pain may be felt more at night. Almost any tendon or bursa in the body can be affected. Those located around a joint are affected most often. Tendonitis and bursitis are usually temporary. However, these conditions may come back often or become ongoing. They do not cause deformity, but they can limit motion.
What Causes Tendonitis and Bursitis?
The most common cause of tendonitis and bursitis is injury or overuse during work or play. This is particularly true if the patient is unfit, has bad posture or uses the affected limb in an awkward way. Sometimes an infection in the bursa or tendon will cause the area to be inflamed. Tendonitis or bursitis may be linked to other conditions. These include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disease and diabetes.
How are Tendonitis and Bursitis Diagnosed?
Diagnosis calls for a careful medical history and physical exam. X-rays may be used to rule out bone problems or arthritis. Drawing tissue from a swollen bursa may be done to check for infection or gout. Blood tests may be ordered to find out if other conditions exist, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Generally, blood tests are not needed to diagnose tendonitis or bursitis.
What are the Treatments for Tendonitis and Bursitis?
Treatment of these two problems is based on the cause. If overuse or injury is the cause, the patient may be told to reduce or avoid a particular activity. Taking the right body position during problem activities is important in preventing the injury from coming back. A warm-up before and correct posture during exercise is useful. Splinting the area, applying moist heat or ice, and using other forms of physical therapy are helpful. Medications can reduce inflammation and pain. Steroid injections into the area are usually helpful.
If there is an infection, an appropriate antibiotic will be given. In some cases, surgical procedures may also be required. Once tendonitis or bursitis goes away, preventing the condition from coming back is crucial. Proper conditioning, comfortable workstations, correct joint positioning, and splints or pads to protect affected areas are helpful.