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Your Pain Might Be From Tendonitis or Bursitis

You will experience some episode of pain at one point or another during your life. It’s common for a quick scan of the internet or visit to a doctor to reveal a vague diagnosis of tendonitis or bursitis as the primary cause of that pain. While these works may or may not reflect the correct cause of the painful symptoms, how many of us actually know what these terms mean? Furthermore, and more importantly, do we understand what causes tendonitis and bursitis, how they are treated and how to prevent them?

Let’s start by answering what these conditions mean and how they develop. Tendonitis, is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon, the portion of a muscle that connects the muscles to a bone. Tendonitis in an area typically develops due to the following:

  • Repetitive motions
  • Repetitive actions
  • Performing motions with poor mechanics
  • Performing a strenuous task without necessary strength and stability to do so safely

Some examples of this include throwing a baseball, or reaching into a cabinet several times a day.

Baseball pitchers can develop tendonitis in the muscles in the shoulder from throwing pitches with poor mechanics. A non-sports example would be a parent who may develop tendonitis from repeatedly lifting their child with similarly poor shoulder mechanics.

Bursitis on the other hand is the inflammation of the structures called bursa. The bursa is a thin, fluid-filled sac that lines points of friction throughout the body. It’s located between bones within joints, between bones and skin, around muscles and ligaments and at other points of potential friction in the body. While bursitis can develop for the same reasons as tendonitis, it can also arise when there is an infection or condition such as arthritis. For example, elderly individuals often develop bursitis of the hip because their muscles weakened and their arthritis hip joint no longer moves the way its supposed to.

Both tendonitis and bursitis can be extremely painful, and from a functional perspective, very debilitating. Many treatment option exist beginning with an initial regiment of rest and ice. Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or a cortisone injection, which often times can completely eliminate the pain or at least bring it down to manageable levels.

However, what all of these treatments fail to address is the initial cause of the condition. Most frequently, the cause is weakness of one or several muscles or poor mechanics either in lifting, walking or running. Addressing that cause of the problem is where physical therapy comes in. 

By: Jeremy Schain, DPT, CSCS

Physical therapy will not only help alleviate the painful symptoms of both conditions, but most importantly, prevent them from returning. Through soft tissue techniques, analyzing how your body moves. targeted strengthening and a functional exercise routine, physical therapy can prevent bursitis and tendonitis from progressing and becoming a larger, more permanent issue.

If you have been diagnosed with either of these conditions or if you are concerned that you may have developed tendonitis or bursitis, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY at 703-450-4300 and CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you. 


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