What is bursitis?
Bursitis is the swelling or inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac located near a joint. Bursae form under the skin and just over a given joint, acting as cushions for tendons that slide over bones. The bursa contains a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid. A thin film called the synovial membrane covers the synovial-filled sac. There are about 160 bursae at different joints of the body. If the bursa is inflamed, the membrane thickens, causing swelling, which can press on the nearby joint. Movement of the joint becomes painful and difficult.
Why so swollen?
Most cases of bursitis happen in the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankles. Since the bursae are affected by movement, overuse or repetitive movement are the most common causes. Some jobs like construction, manufacturing, and packaging can cause bursa pain. People who play certain sports like baseball and tennis, which require repetitive movement, can develop bursitis. Other causes include injuries, degenerative joints, infections, and side effects of rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Look for these signs
Bursitis can be confused with other joint conditions. However, some common signs make the condition stand out. The affected joint can look red and swollen and feel tender or painful when pressed. Some joints, like the shoulders or knees, become stiff when extended. If the bursa is infected, there will be other symptoms like fever and fatigue, which require medical care. Most cases react well to conservative treatment. Moreso, doctors have seen amazing progress with joint injections.
Treating with injections
Bursitis can get worse if left unmanaged, so seek a doctor immediately. The doctor may try anti-inflammatory medication first, but patients can get joint injections. The doctor injects a mix of a corticosteroid and anesthetic into the bursa. Bursa injections happen at the doctor's office in a simple, non-invasive procedure. The doctor numbs the affected area, then injects the steroid into the bursa. The process takes just a few minutes, and pain relief can happen in a few hours to a few days.
Do these injections work?
Injections are effective in reducing pain and inflammation. The corticosteroid reduces the inflammation, and the anesthetic reduces pain. Joint injections can last for 3 or more months, and doctors can give up to 3 injections per year. Studies show that steroid injections can improve pain compared to those without the treatment.
Get bursitis under control
Joint pain due to the inflamed bursa can make movement difficult. If left untreated or unmanaged, bursitis affects the quality of life. Joint injections are a simple solution to a chronic problem. The evidence points to the steroid's effectiveness. However, the effects are not permanent. Speak with a doctor to assess the condition and find long-term solutions to pain.