Bursitis

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Bursitis Overview

A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions an area of friction between tissues, such as tendon and bone. Bursae reduce friction between moving parts of the body, such as in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and heel.

The number varies, but most people have about 160 bursae throughout the body. Bursae are lined with special cells, called synovial cells, which secrete a fluid rich in collagen and proteins. This synovial fluid acts as a lubricant when parts of the body move. Inflammation of a bursa is referred to as bursitis.

Bursitis Causes

The most common causes of bursitis are repetitive motions (for example, repeated throwing of a ball), trauma (extensive kneeling), infection, and preexisting rheumatoid conditions.

Trauma

Trauma causes inflammatory bursitis from repetitive injury or direct impact.

  • Chronic bursitis: The most common cause of chronic bursitis is minor trauma that may occur to the shoulder (subdeltoid) bursa from repetitive motion, for example, throwing a baseball. Another example is prepatellar bursitis (in front of the knee) from prolonged or repetitive kneeling on a hard surface to scrub a floor or lay carpet.
  • Acute bursitis: A direct blow (let's say you accidentally bang your knee into a table) can cause blood to leak into the bursa. This causes pain as well as swelling.

Infections

Bursae close to the surface of the skin are the most likely to get infected with bacteria, a condition that is called septic bursitis. The most common bacteria to cause septic bursitis are Staphylococcus aureus or Staphylococcus epidermis. People with diabetes, alcoholism, certain kidney conditions, those taking cortisone medications (steroid treatments), and those with wounds to the skin over a bursa are at higher risk for septic bursitis. About 85% of septic bursitis occurs in men.

Rheumatoid conditions

People with certain diseases such as gout and pseudogout can develop bursitis from crystal deposits. When these crystals form in a bursa, they cause inflammation leading to bursitis.


Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Bursitis - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with bursitis.
Bursitis Shoulder - Treatment Question: What treatment was effective for your bursitis?
Bursitis - Question: What were the symptoms of your bursitis?

Bursitis Symptoms

What are symptoms of ischial bursitis?

Ischial bursitis is inflammation of the bursa that separates the gluteus maximus muscle of the buttocks from the underlying bony prominence of the bone that we sit on, the ischial tuberosity. Ischial bursitis is a form of bursitis that is usually caused by prolonged sitting on hard surfaces that press against the bones of the bottom or mid-buttocks.


STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!