What is a Bursa?
A bursa is a bag of lubricant which provides a low-friction, slippery and smooth interfaces between two tissues in your body eg a tendon and a bone.
Bursae are found throughout your body, where muscles and tendons glide over bones. You have more than 150 bursae in your body. Without your bursa between these surfaces, your movements would be painful due to friction. Much like the pain associated with bursitis.
What Causes Bursitis?
Your bursa can be injured via direct trauma, or more commonly via repeated irritation.
During painful bursitis, your bursa loses its painless and low-friction gliding capabilities. The added bulk of the swollen bursa causes more friction within an already confined space.
There are several common causes of bursitis. They include the following:
- Repetitive bursa irritation
- Traumatic injury
- Systemic disease
- Any bursa in your body
— And remember there are 150+ can be susceptible to repetitive trauma due to poor muscle control of movement patterns. Identification and correction of these poor movement patterns falls into the professional skill profile of physiotherapist. Please seek their professional opinion especially in longstanding or repeat episodes of bursitis.
Movements and activities can become painful from either the pain-sensitive chemical reaction within the bursa or the swollen bursa can provide additional frictional forces in the subsequent movements.
A fall and land onto your knee can acutely compress your prepatella bursa resulting in knee bursitis
Bursitis treatment has several phases:
- Reduce the acute bursitis pain,
- Reduce the bursa inflammation,
- Assess the cause and rectify any reason that would predispose to bursitis,
Reduce Bursa Inflammation & Pain
Bursa treatment will usually commence with treatment modalities that aim to reduce bursa pain and inflammation. Treatment options may include:
- Anti-inflammatory Medications
- Anti-inflammatory Gels
- Deloading taping eg Kinesio taping
- Assess Non-Traumatic Causes
Bursitis pain usually settles within a few weeks with the appropriate bursa treatment. All non-traumatic origin bursitis should be investigated to discover what is causing your bursitis.
Recurrent flare-ups or recalcitrant bursitis can be common and frustrating for the sufferer. The important thing when managing persistent bursitis is to delve deeply into WHY your bursa is inflamed. Once the reason is identified, controlling your bursitis becomes a much easier project.
Remember the source of recalcitrant bursitis might be your poor biomechanics, muscle weakness, tightness, movement patterns or postural habits that your physiotherapist can identify and help you to correct.
Secondly, the cause may be disease-related. If this is the case, please consult your doctor. If they deem it appropriate, they may advise some tests, eg blood tests, to eliminate or confirm a potential systemic cause of your bursitis.
Prevent a Recurrence
Bursitis is often a secondary symptom caused by many other factors. The best form of bursitis treatment is to identify, and then address, any abnormal biomechanical of muscle control findings, to reduce your likelihood of a bursitis recurrence. Your physiotherapist is highly skilled in identifying these deficits to help you recover quickly from bursitis and then prevent a bursitis recurrence. After thoroughly assessing you, your physiotherapist may prescribe a stretching, strengthening, movement correction/control program.