Bursitis - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, which is the lubricant and cushion around the joint that reduces friction between the bones and tendons when they move. This disorder is common in the knee, elbow, shoulder, and hip joints.

Bursitis can be caused by repetitive motion or pressure on the joint, causing inflammation. Inflammation can cause pain and swelling, limiting joint movement. Even so, bursitis can generally improve if it gets the right treatment.

Symptoms of Bursitis

The main symptom of bursitis is joint pain or stiffness in the inflamed joint. This pain will get worse when the joint is moved or pressed.

In addition, the joint area affected by bursitis will also be swollen, red, and may feel warm. These symptoms can occur suddenly and last for a few days or longer.

Any joint can develop bursitis. However, this disorder is more common in joints that often perform the same movement repeatedly, such as the hip, knee, elbow, and shoulder joints.

When to go to the doctor

To prevent the condition from getting worse and complications occur, immediately consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of bursitis for more than a week or if these symptoms get worse after being given independent treatment at home.

People who suffer rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, overweight, or obesity are also more likely to develop bursitis. Therefore, if you have this condition, make regular check-ups with your doctor periodically to anticipate the onset of bursitis.

Go back to the doctor if the bursitis treatment given does not work. That way, the doctor can perform follow-up examinations and evaluate treatment. The reason is, several types arthritis can be similar to bursitis, so it is often misdiagnosed.

You need to go to the ER immediately if you experience symptoms of very severe bursitis, immobile joints, or swelling in the joint area accompanied by a high fever.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed. Bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid that serves to reduce friction between bones, tendons, and muscles during movement.

There are 3 conditions that often cause bursitis, including:

Repetitive movement of joints

Repeating the same movement or overusing the joint are the most common causes of bursitis. This can put pressure on the joints, causing the joints to become inflamed.

For example, often leaning on your elbows or kneeling for long periods of time, or doing sports that use the same joint repeatedly and over a long period of time, such as throwing a ball or lifting weights.

Joint injury

Joint injuries can cause the bursa to become inflamed. This condition usually occurs when the joint is under heavy pressure, such as when an object hits and hits the joint area, carries a heavy object, to an accident that causes trauma to the joint, and bone hits the bursa.

Certain infections or diseases

Infections of the bursa and diseases that can affect the joints and bones, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis, lupus, diabetes, or thyroid disease, can also cause bursitis.

In addition, there are a number of conditions that can increase a person's risk of developing bursitis, including:

  • Having a profession that requires repetitive joint movements, such as an athlete, painter, musical instrument player, farmer, or construction worker.
  • Has a habit of sitting hunched over, so bad posture.
  • Over 40 years old.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Have a habit of not warming up enough before exercising.

Bursitis Diagnosis

To determine whether the patient has bursitis, the doctor will ask about the complaints and symptoms experienced as well as the patient's medical history. Next, the doctor will do a physical examination, especially in the joint area.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform additional examinations. Some tests that may be recommended include:

  • Laboratory examination

    Two methods of examination that can be done to determine the cause of bursitis are blood tests and analysis of joint fluid from the inflamed joint.

  • Scan

    Scans that can be done to confirm the condition of bursitis are X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI.

Bursitis Treatment

Treatment of bursitis will be tailored to the cause and condition of the patient. The goal of bursitis treatment is to relieve the complaint and treat the underlying cause.

For initial treatment, the following steps can be taken:

  • Rest the painful joint. Try not to move it too often and avoid activities that put pressure on the area.
  • Compress the bursitis area with a cold compress for 10 minutes, 3-4 times a day, and do it for 2-3 days.
  • Provide a cushion or material that can support the area of ​​bursitis pain while sleeping, for example with a pile of pillows.
  • Try not to stand too long if the pain occurs in the hip or knee.
  • Avoid sleeping on your side with the surface of the mattress directly on the painful joint. Use a pillow to support the painful area so it doesn't hit the mattress.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.

If the pain and other symptoms of bursitis do not improve with the simple ways above, see a doctor. Doctors can suggest some of the following treatment steps:


Medicines that are usually given by doctors to treat bursitis are:

  • Pain relievers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. This medication can be used to relieve pain and inflammation in bursitis.
  • Antibiotics, used when bursitis is caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Corticosteroid injection, to relieve inflammation of the bursa. However, this drug is not effective when used in bursitis caused by a bacterial infection.


Doing physiotherapy regularly for a certain period of time can strengthen the muscles around the joints and bursa. This will prevent recurrence of the bursitis. The types of actions and exercises performed in therapy are adjusted to the patient's condition.


In certain conditions, such as bursitis that recurs more often and does not improve with treatment, the doctor may perform drainage (fluid discharge) on the inflamed bursa. However, this treatment option is rarely performed.

Use of assistive devices

It is also necessary to temporarily use a splint, walking stick, or other assistive device to relieve pressure on the joint area.

Bursitis can improve with a number of treatment steps that have been mentioned above. Even so, bursitis can also sometimes become chronic. This can happen if the bursitis is caused by certain medical conditions that don't get treatment.

Bursitis Complications

There are several complications that can arise if bursitis is not treated properly, including:

  • If the bursitis is caused by an infection, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissue. This condition can also make joint pain worse.
  • Stiffness in the joints, so that movement becomes limited. This condition can make the patient unable to perform daily activities.

Bursitis Prevention

Bursitis can be prevented by avoiding the causes and risk factors. Some things that can be done are:

  • Avoid doing repetitive joint movements in the long term. If possible, vary the movement.
  • Rest regularly and regularly, especially when exercising and doing activities that involve joints.
  • Warm up enough before exercising. After exercising, don't forget to cool down.
  • If you do activities that put a strain on your joints and limbs, don't forget to wear protective gear.
  • Follow the correct steps and technique when performing certain sports movements.
  • Take care not to gain too much weight.
  • Do not force yourself to do activities for too long or with intensity that is too heavy for you to do. Take a break when you start to feel tired, to prevent injury.
  • If you have certain diseases that can affect the joints, such as gout, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease, and diabetes, do regular check-ups with your doctor so that your condition is always monitored.