What Are The Causes and Symptoms Of Bursitis?

What is Bursitis? What are the causes, symptoms, complications, and prevention of Bursitis? Information on Bursitis

Disease and its causes

Wherever there is a joint, there is a sac filled with fluid that acts as a cushion and lubricant, and prevents friction. This is called a bursa, and there are at least 140 different ones in the body. When bursitis develops, particles of calcium are deposited in the sac. The result is inflammation and pain. Bursitis can occur in any joint but is found most often in the shoulder, hip, heel, elbow, and knee. The cause is unknown, but it is believed to be related to some injury to the joint affected. However, it has been found where there was no history of injury. The disease is common in both men and women in their adult years. Although athletic people do get bursitis when they injure a bursa, many people who are unathletic and live very sedentary lives also get it.

Symptoms of the disease

There are two forms of bursitis—acute and chronic. The patient with the acute form complains of sudden, severe pain and is reluctant to move the affected joint. In the shoulder bursa, which is the one most usually involved, the pain can be excruciating, radiating up to the neck or down to the fingertips. Pressure on the site of the bursa causes great pain. In order to relieve his pain, a patient often finds it helpful to hold his arm bent as if it were in a sling. The motion of the arm or shoulder joint makes him very uncomfortable.

X-ray examination shows calcium deposits in half of these cases. When the attack is over, the patient has little or no discomfort until the next attack, which may not occur for months or years.

Chronic bursitis is an on-and-off affair, which is brought on by such factors as changes in the ^weather or excessive use of the joint. It may be the result of acute bursitis or it may take this form right from the start.


There are no serious complications. The patient may have to limit his activities and this, in turn, may have some effect upon the work he does for a living.


There is no way of preventing bursitis. Once it has developed, it is helpful to immobilize the affected part as much as possible. If this is not done, pain is likely to increase and cause even greater disability.

Drugs are available that give effective relief. Direct injection of cortisone into the troubled area also gives relief. There is no cure. But as rule patients are quite comfortable between attacks and are able to do most things they did previously. When there are signs of a fresh attack, prompt treatment can minimize discomfort.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a doctor’s warning or recommendation.