Bursitis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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Bursitis Treatment

The doctor will probably recommend home care with P-R-I-C-E-M: protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation, and medications (discussed below).

Bursitis Home Remedies

The treatment for bursitis can be remembered with the following memory device: P-R-I-C-E-M.

  • Protection includes padding especially for bursae close to the surface of the skin on the ankles and knees.
  • Relative rest of the affected area if possible may help symptoms. Choose alternate types of exercise activities that eliminate painful motions. Swimming may help rather than hurt.
  • Ice is very effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables, applied to the area for 10 minutes at least twice a day may help decrease inflammation.
  • Compression and elevation are helpful when it is feasible to compress the area. An elastic bandage can be applied (especially to knees and elbows). Keep the area elevated above the heart to keep blood from pooling there.
  • Medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil) can be helpful to reduce inflammation and pain. Consult your doctor before taking these if you are on any blood-thinning medications or have a history of stomach ulcers or kidney disease.

Medical Treatment

If your bursitis is not infectious, the doctor may inject the bursa with a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation.

If your bursitis is infectious, the bursa will be drained with a needle. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics to be taken in pill form. If the infection is very serious, does not respond to oral antibiotics, or if your immune system is weakened for another reason, you may be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. Most causes of infectious bursitis, however, can be managed safely at home. Occasionally, a surgical operation to remove the bursa can be required.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2015
Next: Follow-up

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