Bursae (the plural form of bursa) are small sacs of synovial fluid that can be found throughout the body. Bursae are lined with synovial membranes that function to secrete synovial lubricating fluid. Bursitis is the condition when one or more bursae are inflamed. In the human body, there are more than 150 bursae that are found in points such as tendons and muscles as they help to reduce the friction and assists them to slide across bone. A healthy bursa aids in creating a smooth and near frictionless surface that glides, making movement painless.
Once bursitis occurs, the movement that relies on the affected bursa can feel gritty and painful. Increased movements of the tendons and muscles related to the inflamed bursa further aggravates the pain and inflammation, prolonging the irritation of the bursa. This results in the affected individual not wanting to move the affected area which can lead to muscle and joint stiffness.
Some of the causes of bursitis include trauma, infection, auto-immune disorders, medication related factors, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, and repetitive or overuse of the affected area. The most commonly affected areas are the shoulders, knees, and elbows. Generally, non-infected bursitis can be treated with physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, ice, and elevation. Infected bursae would require more elaborate therapy.
Bursitis Symptom #1: Localized tenderness
Tenderness is usually a typical symptom of bursitis. Other symptoms associated with tenderness are pain, swelling, and others. Bursitis can be accompanied by tendinitis (inflammation and irritation of tendons) surrounding the bursa. This causes focal tenderness of the surrounding inflamed and irritated tissues. It may also lead to a “pinching” pain which is commonly known as impingement.