A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac encasing a joint. Each one is like a miniature water balloon with only a few drops of fluid in it, wedged between bone and soft tissue.
Tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin glide over bones during joint movement. The tiny, slippery bursa facilitate this gliding motion by providing a thin cushion and reducing friction between the surfaces. If a bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, it is called bursitis. Bursitis is common around major joints like your shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee.
The hip bursa (trochanteric) helps glide the movement between the skin and bones at the side of the hip
Bursitis is common in adults, especially after 40.
It is usually caused by repeated pressure on an area or by using a joint too much. High-risk activities include gardening, raking, carpentry, shovelling, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, and throwing. You can also get bursitis by sitting or standing the wrong way for a long time at work or home, or by not stretching enough before you exercise. Sudden injury can sometimes cause bursitis.
As you age, your tendons are not able to handle stress as well. They are less elastic and easier to tear.
Problems with the structure of a bone or joint (legs that are different lengths or arthritis in a joint), can stress a bursa, causing bursitis. Reactions to medications, and stress or inflammation from other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout may cause bursitis.
Bursitis may affect your:
- Hip or thigh
- Achilles tendon or heel
Isolated pain in the area is the most common symptom of bursitis. It may build up slowly or be sudden and severe. Your joint may also be:
To lower your risk of bursitis:
- Use cushions or pads when resting a joint on a hard surface, such as kneeling or sitting
- If you play sports, mix things up so activities are not repetitive. Warm up and stretch before you play, and always use proper form
- Start slowly and easily when you begin a new activity. As you build strength, you can use more force and do more repetitive motions
- Do not sit still for long periods. For computer work, alternate between standing and sitting
- Take breaks often when you are doing repetitive activities
- Maintain good posture
- Maintain a healthy body weight
If something hurts, stop doing it and check with our therapists.