Pain with Bursitis?



What is bursitis?

Bursitis is inflammation of a structure called a bursa. A bursa is a small fluid filled sac that forms part of many joints around the body including the shoulders, hips, knees, toes and fingers. Their job is to lubricate the space between bone and the joint and reduce friction on surrounding muscles and tendons.


Bursa in the shoulder region                                      Bursa in the knee joint


Causes of bursitis

Repeated stresses and pressure on the bursa over a period of time can irritate the bursa causing it to become inflamed and swollen. Some common contributing factors to bursitis include; repetitive lifting or reaching, heavy lifting, muscle tightness in the neck or shoulder, muscle weakness, poor movement patterns and poor lifting or work technique.

Signs and symptoms of bursitis

  • Pain in the joint
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain with movement of the joint
  • Tenderness to touch over the affected joint

How bursitis is diagnosed

An experienced physiotherapist can diagnose bursitis by taking a thorough history and with a physical examination. Ultrasound scans and X-rays can be useful to confirm diagnosis and clarify the extent of the issue



In most cases bursitis will resolve with conservative treatment and management by your physiotherapist. Treatment is aimed at resolving the swelling and inflammation around the bursa and restoring normal movement and strength. Treatment may include;

  • Electrotherapy (ultrasound or interferential)
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Exercise program
  • Advice on activity modification
  • Use of medications such as anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and pain


Typically the prognosis for recovery from bursitis is very good if managed correctly. Recovery times can vary depending on the severity of the bursitis and can range from a few weeks to months.  Early diagnosis and management is key to reducing the length of the recovery.

If you are suffering from joint pains and you think you may have bursitis then let one of our physiotherapists assess your condition and get you on the path to recovery and optimal function.

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