Bursitis vs. Tendinitis

The bursa is a fluid filled sac that provides cushions and protects areas between the joints, muscles and bones of your body from frequent movement. When the bursa is inflamed it is called Bursitis.

Symptoms of bursitis include pain, stiffness, redness, warmth and swelling as fluid builds up in the sac. Pain often continues even at rest, and if the area becomes infected, fever and chills.  The joints of the knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders are most often affected. Bursitis is caused by an injury, such as a direct impact from a fall, or repetitive use of a joint.  Sometimes infection and diseases can cause the bursa to become inflamed, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Those at greatest risk for getting bursitis are those who have a job or activity that has repetitive movements to the same joint of your body, those who have suppressed immune system (diabetics, cancer), lift their arms over their heads frequently, lean or kneel on hard surfaces often, run, or walk often.

Treatment for mild cases of bursitis is R.I.C.E. or rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Moderate to severe cases may require NSAID’s to treat pain, and inflammation. Corticosteroids may be injected in and around the bursa for inflammation and improve movement.  If there is an infection, an antibiotic is given.  Physical therapy may suggest splinting or a brace to support the injured area.  If the case is severe, surgery may be required to remove the bursa.

If you are prone to getting bursitis, do your best to prevent yourself from another painful episode. Wear knee pads if you kneel often, avoid or take frequent breaks from repetitive activities. Warm up before exercise.  Seek medical attention if you develop fever or chills, or home treatments are not working.

The tendon is a strong rope of tissue that attaches muscle to bone. When the tendon is inflamed it is called Tendinitis.  The most frequent tendons affected are those of the shoulder (rotator cuff), ankle (Achilles tendon), elbow (triceps tendon), and any one of the wrist tendons.

The most common cause of tendinitis is repetitive use of a tendon or muscle. Additional causes include injury, ageing, wear and tear, arthritis, and some medications. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness. Treatment is the same as for bursitis.  Seek medical attention if you do not improve with home care or if you develop numbness or tingling to the extremity near the injury.

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