Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the small fluid-filled pads called bursae, that acts as our cushions among our bones and the tendons and muscles near our joints. The main symptoms of bursitis are pain, swelling and tenderness in the affected area.
Any bursa can become inflamed, but bursitis most commonly occurs in our:
- Knee (known as housemaid’s knee)
Other areas affected can include the ankle, foot and Achilles tendon (the large tendon that attaches the heel bone to the calf muscle).
What causes Bursitis?
A bursa can become inflamed through injury or repetitive movement.Your risk of developing bursitis is increased if you regularly take part in physical activities that involve a lot of repetitive movement, for example running (bursitis in the ankle) or playing darts (bursitis in the elbow).
People who spend a lot of time kneeling, such as carpet fitters and gardeners, also have an increased risk of developing bursitis in their knee. Less commonly, bursitis can develop as a result of an infection, or as a complication of certain conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Most cases of bursitis can be treated at home. Resting the affected area, using an ice pack (a frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a tea towel works well) to reduce inflammation and taking painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, will help relieve your symptoms and speed up your recovery. The pain usually improves within a few weeks, but the swelling may take longer to completely disappear.
Taking precautions, such as wearing knee pads when kneeling, or warming up properly before exercise, may help reduce your risk of getting bursitis.