Bursitis and Tendonitis
Bursitis and Tendonitis are often condfused. While they are different conditons with
different causes many of their symptoms can be similar.
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a tiny
fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of
the body. There are 160 bursae in the body. The major bursae are located adjacent to the
tendons near the large joints, such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.
What is Tendonitis?
Tendonitis is inflammation, irritation, and swelling of a
tendon, which is the fibrous structure that joins muscle to bone.
Causes of Bursitis and Tendonitis
Bursitis can be caused by chronic overuse, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or
infection. Sometimes the cause cannot be determined. Bursitis commonly occurs in the
shoulder, knee (washmaid's knee), elbow, and hip. Other areas that may be affected include
the Achilles tendon and the foot.
Tendonitis can occur as a result of injury, overuse, or with
aging as the tendon loses elasticity. It can also be seen in systemic diseases such as
rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Tendonitis can occur in any tendon, but some commonly
affected sites are the shoulder, the wrist, the heel (Achilles Tendonitis), and the elbow.
- Joint pain and tenderness
- Warmth over the affected joint
- Pain and tenderness along a tendon, usually in proximity to a joint (hip pain, knee
pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, or pain in other joints)
- Pain is worse with movement or activity
- Pain at night
Treatment of Bursitis and Tendonitis
Your health care provider may recommend temporary rest or
immobilization of the affected joint.
NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may relieve pain and inflammation. Formal physical therapy may
be helpful as well.
If the inflammation does not respond to the initial treatment, it may be necessary to
draw out fluid from the bursa and inject corticosteroids. Surgery is rarely required.
Exercises for the affected area should be started as the pain resolves. If muscle
atrophy (weakness and/or decrease in size) has occurred, Your health care provider may
suggest exercises to build strength and increase mobility.
Bursitis caused by infection is treated with antibiotics. Sometimes the infected bursa
must be drained surgically.
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce
Rest or immobilization of the affected tendons is helpful for recovery. This may be
achieved using a splint or a removable brace. The application of heat or cold to the
affected area can help. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as
aspirin or ibruprofen, can also reduce both pain and inflammation. Steroid injections into
the tendon sheath can also be very useful in controlling pain and allowing physical
therapy to start.
Rarely, surgery is needed to physically remove the inflammatory tissue from around the
After recovery, strengthening exercises for the muscles surrounding the affected tendon
may prevent recurrence of the injury