Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, which is the lubricant and cushion around the joint that reduces friction between the bones and tendons when they move. This disorder is common in the knee, elbow, shoulder, and hip joints.

Bursitis can be caused by repetitive motion or pressure on the joint causing inflammation. Inflammation can cause pain and swelling that can limit joint movement. However, bursitis can generally improve if treated properly.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed. Bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid which functions to reduce friction between bones, tendons and muscles during movement.

There are three conditions that are often the cause of bursitis, including:

Repetitive movements in the joints

Repeating the same motion or overusing a joint are common causes of bursitis. This can put pressure on the joints so that the joints become inflamed.

The above conditions can occur if you often lean on your elbows or kneel for a long time. It can also occur from using the same joint repeatedly or for a long time, such as throwing a ball or lifting weights.

Joint injury

Joint injuries can make the bursa inflamed. This condition usually occurs when the joint is under heavy pressure, for example because an object hits or hits the joint area, carries a heavy object, to an accident that causes trauma to the joint and bone that hits the bursa.

Certain infections or diseases

Infections of the bursa as well as diseases that can affect the joints and bones, such as rheumatoid arthritis , gouty arthritis , lupus, diabetes or thyroid disease , can also cause bursitis.

In addition, there are a number of conditions that can increase a person's risk of developing bursitis, namely:

  • Have a profession that requires repetitive joint movements, such as athletes, painters, musical instrument players, farmers, or construction workers
  • Has a habit of sitting hunched over so that the posture becomes bad
  • Over 40 years old
  • Suffering from being overweight or obese
  • Not warming up enough before exercising

Symptoms of Bursitis

The main symptom of bursitis is joint pain or stiffness in the inflamed joint. This pain will get worse when the joint is moved or pressed.

In addition, the joint area affected by bursitis will also be swollen, red, and may feel warm. These symptoms may occur suddenly and last for several days or longer.

Any joint can develop bursitis. However, this disorder is more common in joints that often perform the same movement repeatedly, such as the hip, knee, elbow, and shoulder joints.

When to see a doctor

To prevent the condition from getting worse and to avoid complications, see a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of bursitis for more than a week, or if the symptoms get worse after being given independent treatment at home.

People with rheumatoid arthritis , gout, diabetes , overweight, or obesity are also more likely to develop bursitis. Therefore, if you suffer from this condition, make regular check-ups with your doctor regularly to anticipate the onset of bursitis.

Go back to the doctor if the bursitis treatment given is not effective. That way, the doctor can perform follow-up examinations and evaluate treatment. The reason is, some types of arthritis can be similar to bursitis so it is often misdiagnosed.

Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience symptoms of very severe bursitis, immobility of the joints, or swelling in the joint area accompanied by a high fever.

Bursitis diagnosis

To determine whether the patient has bursitis, the doctor will ask about the complaints experienced and the patient's medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination, especially in the joint area.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations. Some of the tests that may be recommended include:

  • Laboratory examination
    Two methods of examination that can be done to determine the cause of bursitis are blood tests and analysis of joint fluid from inflamed joints.
  • Scanning
    Scans that can be done to confirm the condition of bursitis are X-rays , ultrasound , or MRI .

Bursitis Treatment

Treatment of bursitis will be adjusted to the cause and condition of the patient. The goal of treatment is to relieve complaints and overcome the causes.

For initial treatment, the following steps can be taken:

  • Rest painful joints. Try not to move it too often and avoid activities that put pressure on the area.
  • Compress the bursitis area with a cold compress for 10 minutes, 3–4 times a day, and do it for 2–3 days.
  • Provide padding or material that can support the bursitis pain area while sleeping, for example with a pile of pillows.
  • Try not to stand too long if the pain occurs in the hip or knee.
  • Avoid sleeping on your side with the position of the mattress surface directly on the painful joint. Use a pillow to support the painful area so it doesn't hit the mattress.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.

If the pain and other symptoms of bursitis do not improve with the simple ways above, see a doctor. Doctors can suggest some of the following treatment steps:


Medicines that are usually given by doctors to treat bursitis are:

  • Pain relievers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen , to relieve pain and inflammation in bursitis
  • Antibiotics , to treat bursitis caused by bacterial infections
  • Injectable corticosteroids , to relieve inflammation of the bursa


Doing physiotherapy regularly for a certain period of time can strengthen the muscles around the joints and bursa. This will prevent recurrence of the bursitis. The types of actions and exercises performed in therapy are adjusted to the patient's condition.


In certain conditions, for example, bursitis recurs more and more and does not improve with treatment, doctors can perform drainage measures, namely the discharge of fluid in the inflamed bursa. However, this action is rarely performed.

Use of assistive devices

The use of splints, walking sticks, or other assistive devices is also temporarily necessary to reduce pressure on the joint area.

Bursitis generally gets better with a number of the above treatment methods. However, bursitis can sometimes become chronic. This can happen if bursitis is caused by certain medical conditions that don't get treatment.

Bursitis Complications

There are several complications that can arise if bursitis is not treated properly, including:

  • Spread of infection to surrounding tissues, which can exacerbate joint pain
  • Stiffness in the joints that limits movement so that the patient is unable to carry out daily activities

Bursitis Prevention

Bursitis can be prevented by avoiding its causes and risk factors, including by:

  • Avoid doing repetitive joint movements over a long period of time. If possible, vary the movement.
  • Rest regularly and regularly, especially when exercising and doing activities that involve the joints.
  • Warm up sufficiently before exercising. After exercising, don't forget to cool down.
  • Do not forget to use protective equipment when doing activities that put a strain on the joints and limbs.
  • Follow the correct steps and techniques when doing certain sports.
  • Take care not to overdo it.
  • Do not force yourself to do activities for too long or with an intensity that is too heavy beyond your ability. Take a break when you start to feel tired to prevent injury.
  • Get regular checkups with your doctor if you have certain diseases that can affect your joints, such as gout, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease, and diabetes, so that your condition is always monitored.
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