Bursitis: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2015

Bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that act as cushions between areas of friction in the musculoskeletal system, such as between tendon and bone. Symptoms of bursitis can occur anywhere in the body where bursae are present, and the body contains about 160 bursae. Symptoms are often present in the bursae of the knee, elbow, shoulder, ankle, hip, thigh, or buttocks. Bursitis signs and symptoms include

  • pain in the affected area,
  • tenderness over the affected bursa,
  • pain that radiates to other locations.

Symptoms can begin early in the course of the disease, and the condition can come on suddenly (acute bursitis) or develop over time (chronic bursitis).

Bursitis in some locations can cause limitation of movement. The pain from many types of bursitis is worse at night.

Bursitis causes

The most common causes of bursitis are repetitive motions and overuse, trauma and injury, preexisting rheumatoid conditions, and infections. Gout and pseudogout are examples of conditions that can also cause bursitis.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/28/2015

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