Schedule Appointment

What is bursitis and how do I know if I have it?

it band syndrome

By: C. Ashley Border, DPT

Bursitis is an inflammation of a structure called a “bursa” and most commonly occurs in knees, hips, shoulders and elbows. Pain is the number one symptom of bursitis. This pain can be deep and hard to pinpoint. It is often described as “dull and achey,” and can radiate to the surrounding areas. Bursitis can impede on nearly all aspects of our everyday activities, including standing up from the couch, running on the treadmill, walking the dog, or even something as simple as lying down in bed… that shouldn’t hurt, right?!

So, what is a “bursa?” A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that is present in locations around the body that require increased movement. The bursa sits between a boney landmark and muscle tendons, and works to minimize friction between these anatomical structures as we climb stairs at home, run and jump during our body pump classes, and stand up from the desk at work. Bursitis is a clinical condition in which this protective structure becomes inflamed or damaged.

Bursitis can occur because of failing anatomical structures. Here are a handful of the most common reasons that we see bursitis in the physical therapy clinic:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Tight muscles (and surrounding connective tissue)
  • Post-operative weakness
  • Joint misalignment
  • Muscle strain
  • Fraying muscle tendon
  • Injury secondary to falls or sporting collisions

When an individual has one or more of the above presentations, he or she will have poor body mechanics with everyday movements such as loading groceries into the car or going for a jog to start training for a 5K. The bursa must work overtime to try and reduce friction between muscle and bone and can ultimately succumb to damage and inflammation.

The painful sensation of bursitis may start off as minor and annoying, but if left untreated, the pain will turn into a constant nagging sensation that can interrupt your concentration, and furthermore, may evolve into a terrible pain that will prevent you from wanting to participate in family activities like a picnic in the park or setting up holiday decorations around the house.

You may now be asking, “How can I cure my bursitis?” The answer is simple: change how your body is moving! Now you may be thinking, “How in the world do I do that?” Do not fret. A physical therapist is here to help! Here at LSTC, we are well prepared to take on your nagging bursitis. A physical therapist’s well-trained eyes can perform a full body evaluation to determine the cause(s) of your bursitis. Once the anatomical reason is determined, your physical therapist will help you to:

  • Strengthen your weak muscles
  • Improve muscle endurance
  • Loosen the tight muscles and surrounding structures
  • Retrain the neuromuscular component of body control
  • Teach you how to climb stairs and lift boxes properly
  • Analyze and correct walking and running patterns
  • Use manual hands-on treatment to improve joint mobility and alignment, and decrease pain caused by nerve endings around the bursa

So, please, do not let your bursitis keep you from participating in life! Call us at 703-450-4300 TODAY to see a physical therapist and start your treatment. 

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

Tags: , , , ,