What is Bursitis?
Bursae (plural for bursa) are cushions between the body’s tissues (including tendons, bones, muscles, and the skin) that prevent friction. More specifically, a bursa is a very small sac filled with a lubricating fluid that acts as a smooth and slippery surface for the tendons to glide over, thereby reducing friction between muscles and bones. It does this, however, by absorbing much of the friction itself.
Why Does Bursitis Develop?
Repetitive motions may cause excess friction, which in turn could lead to inflammation and pain of the bursa. This is similar to how repetitive motions can cause tendonitis. In fact, since the bursa takes the brunt of this friction, it can easily become painful and inflamed – otherwise known as bursitis.
This may also occur when the bursa is compressed for extended periods of time. Injury is another prominent cause of bursitis, as are certain underlying rheumatic conditions, like gout or arthritis. Age can also be a factor in the development of bursitis. As a person ages there tendons become less elastic, less resistant to stress, and easier to tear.
Where Does Bursitis Occur?
As you might expect bursa, like tendons, are located throughout the body, and therefore are also many types of bursitis. Among the most common areas of bursitis we see in our office are hip (trochanteric), elbow (olecranon), knee, and shoulder bursitis. Also quite common are heel (Achilles tendon) and ankle bursitis.
What Does Bursitis Feel Like?
The symptoms of bursitis are similar and nearly the same as the symptoms of tendonitis: localized tenderness, swelling, and pain during movement. Like with tendonitis, that pain can appear suddenly and feel quite severe, or the pain can come on slowly and gradually buildup in severity.
How is Bursitis Diagnosed?
In cases where a patient’s bursitis is recurrent or has gone untreated long enough to become chronic, an X-ray can often be helpful in detecting calcifications of the bursae. And as with tendonitis, the doctor would only recommend an MRI if he suspected another health issue present.
Chiropractic Care for Bursitis
Bursitis is the inflammation and irritation of a bursa.
Bursitis can take months to heal properly, and even then complications, such as the accumulation of excessive scar tissue, can cause the condition to become chronic and last much longer, sometimes even years. This is why prompt medical diagnosis and proper treatment aimed at reducing the possibility of these complications is vital in the treatment of bursitis.
In the early stages of bursitis, it has been found beneficial to use ultrasound therapy to safely decrease inflammation, along with massage therapy aimed at safely breaking down scar tissue. Once a patient’s bursitis is stabilized, physiotherapy and joint manipulation can then be very effective in loosening up the related soft tissue, restoring flexibility and alleviating pressure and friction over the affected bursa. Occasionally acupuncture or nutritional support such as glucosamine with MSM may also be recommended.
“An intensive 2-wk course of pulsed ultrasound, ice massage, interferential current and chiropractic lumbopelvic manipulation resulted in symptomatic relief, abolishment of palpatory tenderness and return of pain-free passive and resisted range of motion of the hip. CONCLUSIONS: Trochanteric bursitis is a common cause of hip pain. A trial of conservative measures is warranted for this condition, even when calcinosis is present, before more invasive therapies are considered.”