Bursitis - Diagnosis & Treatment

Bursitis is a condition that inflames the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints. This inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. Bursitis can occur in almost any joint, but it's most common in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and ankle.

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How Do You Treat Bursitis

Treating bursitis often involves a combination of self-care measures, medication, and, in some cases, medical procedures. The specific approach to treatment may vary depending on the severity of the condition and its underlying cause, so it is important to speak to a medical professional if any of the self-care measures do not help.

Here are some common medical treatments for bursitis: 

Self-Care Methods

  • Rest and immobilisation:

Resting the affected joint and avoiding activities that worsen the symptoms is often the initial treatment. Try not to put pressure on the affected area; depending on where the bursitis is located, you can wear padding to protect the joint or splints to immobilise the joint.

  • Ice and heat therapy:

Apply ice to reduce inflammation several times a day; heat pads are also recommended to promote blood flow and relaxation of the affected area. A medical specialist can also suggest alternating the cold and hot exposure.

  • Over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine:

you can take paracetamol and ibuprofen to manage your pain and inflammation.


Medical Treatments

  • Physiotherapy:

A physical therapist can prescribe specific exercises and stretches to improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the affected joint. Techniques such as ultrasound or therapeutic massage can also be used to promote healing.

  • Aspiration:

In cases where there is a significant accumulation of fluid in the bursa, a healthcare professional will use a needle to aspirate or drain the fluid. This can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling.

  • Corticosteroid injections:

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications; they will be injected directly into the affected bursa to reduce inflammation. This is typically done under the guidance of an ultrasound to ensure accurate placement of the injection.

  • Antibiotics:

If the bursitis is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the infection.


If left untreated

If left untreated, bursitis can reappear and develop into chronic bursitis, so it’s important to follow what the doctor has recommended. 

When an underlying health condition is causing bursitis, that condition will have to be addressed to prevent the bursitis from reoccurring.


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How to Prevent Bursitis

You can treat bursitis by following the measures above but, it’s important to listen to your body and prevent it from coming back. There are a few simple steps to follow for bursitis prevention:

  • Avoid repetitive movements of the affected joint; take regular breaks when needed. 

  • Don’t add extra pressure on the joints; wear padding to cushion the joint if you need it (for example, when kneeling)

  • Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles around your joints and to keep the joints mobile. Make sure to warm up properly before and stretch after your exercise routine.

  • If you feel pain, stop any activity that’s causing it.


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Your dedicated Specialist Doctor will provide you with personalized treatment, tailoring it to your specific needs, and may include necessary medication.

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If you have been experiencing pain in the joint area and think you are suffering from bursitis, book an appointment with one of our London-based consultant orthopaedic surgeons. They will assess and find the right treatment course for you and your lifestyle.


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