Bursitis is a condition often associated with athletes. A tennis player with tennis elbow. A baseball player with shoulder bursitis. A soccer player or runner with hip or knee bursitis.
Bursitis is definitely common in sports. However, bursitis is a condition that happens to everyday people performing everyday activities, from gardening and cleaning, to installing hardwood floors, to lifting boxes onto a truck. And because people with chronic bursitis might not feel pain, their bursitis often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Let’s take a look at what exactly bursitis is, what causes it, and the Natural Healthcare Center approach to treatment.
What Is Bursitis?
If you feel pain in your joint accompanied by swelling, stiffness, or tenderness, you could have bursitis. Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae, the tiny sacs of fluid in the joints that provide cushioning and lubrication between the bones and soft tissue to prevent friction and irritation.
There are more than 150 bursae in the body, but bursitis is typically found in the larger joints that work the hardest and absorb the most pressure and force. Bursitis is common in the shoulders, hips, knees, Achilles tendons, and elbows.
What Causes Bursitis?
Heavy lifting, repetitive movements, overuse, and sustained pressure on the joints are the most common causes of bursitis. For example, landscapers, gardeners, floor installers, and house cleaners often perform the same motions repeatedly. They also tend to spend a lot of time on their knees, which could cause pressure that leads to bursitis.
Athletes such as baseball pitchers and tennis players often experience injuries accompanied by bursitis in their shoulders and elbows. Many athletes aggravate bursitis with improper stretching. Poorly fitting shoes can cause bursitis because of the constant pressure they create on the heel, ankle and knees. An imbalance in the hips and a misaligned spine also contribute to bursitis.
Another common cause of bursitis is starting an exercise program too quickly. For example, a person who has lived a sedentary lifestyle will often go to the gym and start a “Biggest Loser”-type fitness regimen when their body is in no condition for such intensity. This can cause serious injuries, including acute bursitis.
Bacterial infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to bursitis. Because there are so many subtle differences in bursitis types and causes, it’s important to be examined by someone who understands the connections between the body’s interconnected systems and the downstream effects of various conditions and injuries.
What Are the Treatment Options for Bursitis?
The root causes of bursitis are diagnosed through examination, a discussion of your health history, observation of movement and function, and diagnostic imaging if necessary. The Natural Healthcare Center team of clinicians will then collaborate to develop a personalized treatment plan.
If you Google something along the lines of “bursitis treatment options,” you’re likely to find recommendations that include over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as corticosteroid injections. The problem is, there are often causes of bursitis that drugs and injections won’t address. The goal of treatment should be to not only eliminate the pain, but also to prevent bursitis from returning.
While an infection is typically treated with an antibiotic, many cases of bursitis can be treated without medication. Of course, surgery should be a last resort.
Conservative treatment for mild cases of bursitis often begins with rest and ice. Inflammation can be reduced with dietary changes and nutritional supplements. However, we might also recommend some combination of chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and podiatry to restore balance and correct improper biomechanics.
Permanent lifestyle change is often the best bursitis treatment and prevention technique. We’ll always take the time to educate you about proper nutrition, lifting and bending techniques, safe exercise, and the use of padding and cushions to protect your joints.
Bursitis isn’t limited to athletes and those who perform heavy manual labor. If you have joint pain or stiffness, let’s attack the problem at the source so it goes away and stays away. Schedule an appointment today at Natural Healthcare Center.