Bursitis is defined as inflammation of a bursa. Bursae are small sacs which are located in the area between two adjoining structures. These adjoining structures are usually muscles, tendons and bones. The bursae are filled with a customized fluid. This fluid acts as a cushion and provides a cushioning effect necessary for movement and pressure. These small cushions are known as bursae (a single one is called a bursa). Bursae are specially designed cushioning sacs that decrease friction between the joints and assist movement of the tendon over the bony surface. Bursitis is a condition which does not lead to joint deformity. But a joint mobility is significantly affected in a person suffering from bursitis. Bursitis also causes significant pain and restricted movements of the joints and the tendons.
Bursitis may be mistaken for arthritis
Bursae are located outside the joint itself. They provide protection to the joint and the surrounding structures. Since both tendons and bursae are located near joints, inflammation in these soft tissues may be mistaken as arthritis. However, it has to be understood that arthritis is a condition that involves inflammation within joints, whereas bursitis is a condition that involves inflammation outside the joint.
The most common joints to be affected by bursitis are shoulder, elbow, hip and knee
The body contains many bursae but the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and heel are the most common sites of bursitis. The main reason behind this is that the hip and the knee are the major weight bearing joints of the body. The shoulder and the elbow, as well as the hip and the knee are the most over used joints of the body. As a result of this, these joints are more prone to repeated injuries.
The continuous wear and tear of these joints, from repeated use, from continuous pressure and injuries affects the cushioning effect of the bursae surrounding the joints. This results in inflammation of the bursae and the person complains of restricted joint mobility and considerable pain.
Another reason that can become a contributing factor in the development of bursitis is certain disorders such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis and even diabetes. Bursae surrounding the joints can also be affected as a result of direct hit or direct injury to the joint, or in other cases, bursitis can occur as a result of repetitive movements or overuse of the surrounding joints. Repeated physical activities, such as swinging a golf club or swinging a tennis racket can also cause bursitis. The condition commonly known as ‘housemaid’s knee’ results from inflammation of the bursa on the front of the knee caused by repeated sweeping while kneeling.
People can also get bursitis when the body has to change its balance or movement in order to adapt to differences; for example, if a person has one leg that’s longer than the other, or in cases where one leg is injured, as a result of which the other leg is used to bear the weight of the body which results in over use and over pressure on the other leg.