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Bursitis

Inflammation or irritation of a bursa, the fibrous sac that acts as a cushion between moving structures of bones, muscles, tendons or skin.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Library of Medicine)

About Bursitis

Bursitis and tendinitis are both common conditions that involve inflammation of the soft tissue around muscles and bones, most often in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle.

A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and other moving parts: muscles, tendons, or skin. Bursae are found throughout the body. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed (redness and increased fluid in the bursa).

A tendon is a flexible band of fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones. Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons transmit the pull of the muscle to the bone to cause movement. They are found throughout the body, including the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Tendons can be small, like those found in the hand, or large, like the Achilles tendon in the heel.

Bursitis is commonly caused by overuse or direct trauma to a joint. Bursitis may occur at the knee or elbow, from kneeling or leaning on the elbows longer than usual on a hard surface, for example....Read more about Bursitis NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Corticosteroid injections for shoulder pain

The available evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of subacromial corticosteroid injection for rotator cuff disease, although its effect may be small and short‐lived, and it may be no better than non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs. Similarly, intra‐articular steroid injection may be of limited, short‐term benefit for adhesive capsulitis. Further trials investigating the efficacy of corticosteroid injections for shoulder pain are needed. Important issues that need clarification include whether the accuracy of needle placement, anatomical site, frequency, dose and type of corticosteroid influences efficacy.

Arthrographic distension for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)

‐ May improve pain at three weeks.

Oral steroids for shoulder pain (adhesive capsulitis)

There is silver level evidence (www.cochranemsk.org) that oral steroids may work to treat shoulder pain (adhesive capsulitis) in the short term. Oral steroids may decrease pain and disability, and may improve movement in the shoulder in the short term. But the benefits of oral steroids may not last 6 weeks. Oral steroids taken for short periods in people who are otherwise healthy may not cause harms. There is not enough evidence to be certain of the benefits and harms of oral steroids and more research is needed.

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Summaries for consumers

Corticosteroid injections for shoulder pain

The available evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of subacromial corticosteroid injection for rotator cuff disease, although its effect may be small and short‐lived, and it may be no better than non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs. Similarly, intra‐articular steroid injection may be of limited, short‐term benefit for adhesive capsulitis. Further trials investigating the efficacy of corticosteroid injections for shoulder pain are needed. Important issues that need clarification include whether the accuracy of needle placement, anatomical site, frequency, dose and type of corticosteroid influences efficacy.

Arthrographic distension for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)

‐ May improve pain at three weeks.

Oral steroids for shoulder pain (adhesive capsulitis)

There is silver level evidence (www.cochranemsk.org) that oral steroids may work to treat shoulder pain (adhesive capsulitis) in the short term. Oral steroids may decrease pain and disability, and may improve movement in the shoulder in the short term. But the benefits of oral steroids may not last 6 weeks. Oral steroids taken for short periods in people who are otherwise healthy may not cause harms. There is not enough evidence to be certain of the benefits and harms of oral steroids and more research is needed.

See all (5)

Terms to know

Arthritis
A general term for conditions that cause inflammation (swelling) of the joints and surrounding tissues. Some forms of arthritis may occur simultaneously with osteoporosis and Paget's disease.
Bursa
A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac. It provides a cushion between bones and tendons and/or muscles around a joint. This helps to reduce friction between the bones and allows free movement.
Inflammation
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Sac
A bag or pouch inside a plant or animal that typically contains a fluid.
Tendinitis
Inflammation or irritation of a tendon.
Tendons
Tough, fibrous, cord-like tissue that connects muscle to bone or another structure, such as an eyeball. Tendons help the bone or structure to move.

More about Bursitis

Photo of an adult

Also called: Inflammation of bursa

Other terms to know: See all 6
Arthritis, Bursa, Inflammation

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