Throughout the body, small, fluid filled pads cushion the muscles, tendons and bones of the joints. These are called “bursae”. These pads are filled with lubricating fluids. They decrease friction and irritation within the joint. When these cushions become inflamed, the result is called bursitis.The shoulder, hip and elbow joints are the most common areas affected by bursitis. However, other joints such as the knee, toe and heel can also be impacted.
When bursitis occurs, the most common symptoms are pain, stiffness, achiness or swelling.
Many times, bursitis is caused by frequent, repetitive motion. Many sports or athletic activities can cause this condition. Those with high-risk work activities are often affected (for example plumbers, carpenters, painters).
Bursitis can also result from sudden injuries.
Another factor can be age. Tendons in the joint can become less elastic and are more easily injured, affecting the bursae. Physical therapy treatments can significantly help the healing process of bursitis. Individualized stretching and exercise programs will be recommended to help with healing and maintain strength and flexibility.
A number of therapeutic modalities can significantly reduce pain and accelerate the healing process. These include hot or cold packs, ice massage as well as devices such as shortwave diathermy, ultrasound or electrical stimulation.