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What is bursitis?

Bursitis is the inflammation or irritation of a fluid-filled sac of lubricating fluid in the joints called a bursa.

Bursitis symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness in joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee and hips.

What causes bursitis?

Bursitis is most often caused by repetitive minor impact on the area, or from a sudden, more serious injury. Age also plays a role. As tendons age they are able to tolerate stress less, are less elastic and are easier to tear.

Overuse or injury to the joint at work or play can also increase a person's risk. Examples of high-risk activities include gardening, raking, carpentry, shovelling, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing and pitching. Incorrect posture at work or home and poor stretching or conditioning before exercise can also lead to bursitis.


An abnormal or poorly placed bone or joint (such as length differences in your legs or arthritis in a joint) can put added stress on a bursa sac, causing bursitis. Stress or inflammation from other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders or unusual medication reactions may also increase a person's risk. In addition an infection can occasionally lead to inflammation of a bursa

Who usually gets bursitis?

Bursitis is more common in adults, especially in those over 40 years old.

What parts of the body does bursitis affect?

What are the symptoms of bursitis?

The most common symptom is pain at the site of the bursa and beyond. The pain may be a gradual build-up or sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present. Loss of motion in the shoulder - called ‘adhesive capsulitis’ or frozen shoulder - can also be a sign of bursitis.

Weaver's bottom

Weaver's bottom 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. Weaver's bottom 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. Doctors also call Weaver's bottom 'ischial bursitis'.

How can I prevent bursitis?

Bursitis can be prevented by protecting any exposed joints, taking regular breaks when performing repetitive movements, warming muscles up before exercising, and strengthening muscles by gradually building-up activities, with limited force and limited repetitions. Stop what you are doing if unusual pain occurs. Try again later, and if pain recurs do not continue the activity that day.

How is bursitis treated?

Bursitis can be treated in a number of ways including:

  • Avoiding activities that aggravate the problem.
  • Resting the injured area.
  • Icing the area the day of the injury.
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
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