What is Bursitis?

Inflammation of bursa, a soft fluid-filled sac that serves as a cushion between tendons and bones. Bursae usually affected are near the shoulders, elbows, knees, pelvis, hips or Achilles tendons.

Bursitis signs and symptoms

  • Pain, tenderness and limited movement in the affected area with radiation of pain into the neck, arm and fingertips.
  • Severe pain with movement of the arm.
  • Fever (sometimes).


  • Injury to a joint.
  • Overuse of a joint.
  • Strenuous, unaccustomed exercise.
  • Calcium deposits in shoulder tendons with degeneration of the tendon.
  • Acute or chronic infection.
  • Arthritis.
  • Gout.
  • Unknown (frequently).

Risk increases with

  • People who are involved in vigorous and repetitive athletic training.
  • Exercise or sports participants who suddenly increase their activity levels ("weekend warriors").
  • Improper stretching or overstretching.

Preventive measures

  • Avoid injuries or overuse of muscles whenever possible. Wear protective gear for contact sports.
  • Appropriate warm-up and cool-down.
  • Maintain a high fitness level.

Expected outcomes

This is a common, but not a serious problem. Symptoms usually subside in 7 to 14 days with treatment.

Possible complications

Frozen joint or permanent limitation of a joint's mobility.

Bursitis treatment

  • RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation of affected joint).
  • Apply ice packs to the affected area during a flare-up or after receiving injections in the joint.
  • After the acute stage, continued ice treatment (until inflammation subsides) or heat application may be recommended. If you use heat, take hot showers, use a heat lamp, apply hot compresses or a heating pad, or rub in deep-heating ointment.
  • Invasive therapy may include aspiration of the joint or surgical excision.

Additional Information


Ibuprofen Naproxen


Rest the inflamed area as much as possible. If you must resume normal activity immediately, wear a sling until the pain becomes more bearable. To prevent a frozen joint (especially in the shoulder), begin normal, slow joint movement as soon as possible.


No special diet.

Notify your physician if

  • You or a family member has symptoms of bursitis.
  • Pain increases, despite treatment.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.