Bursitis is a painful swelling that occurs in a tiny, fluid-filled sac known as a bursa. Bursa or bursae are tissues that cushion areas around bones and other tissue. They fill the gaps between bones and the muscles, tendons and skin. The inflammation of bursa is commonly caused by overusing and exerting too much pressure on it.

The body has more than 150 bursae. Any of them can be affected by bursitis. Bursitis is most prone to develop in joints used for repetitive motions or in regions where one exert a lot of pressure such as the shoulders, elbow, knees, hip, feet, and butt. Pain arising from an inflamed bursa can manifest either abruptly or gradually intensify over a period.

Bursitis pain usually resolves within a few weeks with proper treatment, although repeated bursitis flare-ups are common. The longer the pressure or stress is applied to an injured bursa, the longer it will take to heal. It also raises the risk of developing chronic bursitis. Resting and protecting the afflicted joint from further injury are the common treatments of this condition.


Bursitis has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain, or stiffness, especially when moving affected region of the body
  • Swollen and red
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Hurts more when moved or pressed on

If any of the signs and symptoms persist, consult a doctor for proper diagnosis especially when the pain is interfering with daily activities, and the soreness does not improve with home treatments.

Immediate consultation is also necessary when one has a fever, discoloration, or redness, swelling, or a heated sensation in an injured area, or unexpected inability to move a joint. Proper diagnosis and immediate treatment are necessary to prevent recurrence and long-term complications.


Bursitis has a variety of causes. This includes repetitive activities or spending time in positions that apply strain on a specific part of the body. Injury or trauma to the affected area, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and infection also cause bursitis.

Repetitive motions, positions, or activities that can cause bursitis include:

  • Pitching a baseball
  • Lifting heavy boxes at work
  • Long periods of leaning on the elbows
  • Carpentry
  • Raking and gardening
  • Painting
  • Poor posture or a misaligned joint or bone due to differing leg lengths, bone spurs, or arthritis
  • Scrubbing
  • Shoveling

Risk factors

Several factors may contribute to increasing one’s risk of acquiring bursitis, such as:

  • Age: The older the person, the risk of developing bursitis.
  • Work or hobbies: Athletes, musicians, and people who do physical work, such as carpet installation, tile installation, gardening, and painting are at a higher risk of bursitis. The likelihood of getting bursitis increases if the job or pastime requires repetitive motion or pressure on certain bursae.
  • Other medical conditions: Overweight people are more likely to develop hip and knee bursitis. It is also more likely to occur if one has certain systemic diseases and conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or diabetes.