Man explaining to doctor his bursitis hip pain

Bursitis is a fairly common condition that results when bursae, which are tiny fluid-filled sacs, become inflamed.1,2,3 The role of bursae is to act as a cushion between the bones, muscles, and tendons that surround the joints.2 This type of inflammation can be very painful and flare up frequently with movement.

Older adults, individuals who have jobs or hobbies that require repetitive motions, and people who have medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout are more at risk of developing bursitis.

To inform patients and their caregivers, this article will cover the basics of bursitis, including common body parts affected, its causes, bursitis symptoms, and bursitis treatment options.

Bursitis Locations in the Body

Bursitis is a condition that can occur in various parts of the body and be very painful in each one of them.1 Bursitis hip is very common because this condition tends to form around joints that engage in repetitive motions.4 Bursitis knee is also very common since knees are used so frequently in daily activities. Other locations where bursitis commonly occurs are the shoulders, elbows, heels, and the base of the big toe.1,3

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Bursitis Causes

The most common bursitis causes involve repetitive motions that are related to occupational duties. For example, individuals who have spent extensive time scrubbing floors on their knees or lifting heavy objects over their heads are more prone to bursitis.

Stretching before performing repetitive work tasks, taking frequent breaks, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce one’s chances of having bursitis.5 It is also possible to develop bursitis after suffering a joint injury, an infection, or alongside other inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and gout.1,3

Bursitis Symptoms

Some of the most common bursitis symptoms are achiness, stiffness, pain, swelling, and redness around the affected joint.1,3,5,6 It is likely time to consult a physician when it suddenly becomes impossible to move a joint, when excessive bruising or rashes occur, sharp or disabling pains are felt, or if a fever develops.

Physicians typically conduct a physical exam and order x-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs to diagnose bursitis. Fluid may also be taken from the inflamed area to rule out the possibility of infection, and blood tests can help determine the exact cause of the pain and inflammation.

Bursitis Treatment

Effective bursitis treatment options involve resting the joints to help the pain subside and to prevent additional trauma.1,3,5,6 Bursitis pain may be alleviated by rest within a few weeks but may come back unexpectedly at a later time.

Other recommendations for bursitis treatment include oral pain medications, topical pain relief creams like JointFlex, and applying ice to the affected area. Physical therapy exercises may also be used to strengthen muscles around the inflamed joint.

In more severe cases of bursitis, corticosteroid medications may be administered to relieve inflammation and pain.1,7 Surgery may be necessary to drain an inflamed bursa or even to remove the bursae. Finally, a cane or crutches can be used by bursitis patients as temporary measures to take the pressure off of the affected joints during the healing process.

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1. Biundo, J. J. (2018 April). Bursitis. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 12, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/muscle,-bursa,-and-tendon-disorders/bursitis.
2. Bursitis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 12, 2018 from
3. Bursitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved October 12, 2018 from
4. Bursitis a common cause of painful hips, knees, heels and elbows: Most conditions can be managed with simple, nonsurgical techniques.” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 27, 2018 from ScienceDaily
5. Cooper, G. (2012 April 27). What Is Bursitis? Arthritis Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
6. Bursitis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
7. Bursitis overview. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 27, 2018 from