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The bursa a small, fluid-filled sac with a jelly-like feel that helps protect the bones against surrounding tissues, including muscles and tendons. Bursitis is when a bursa becomes inflamed (swollen and irritated). Symptoms include the following:

  • Joint pain
  • Tenderness when you press around the joint
  • Stiffness and aching when you move the joint
  • Swelling, warmth or redness over the joint

Bursitis most commonly affects the knee, elbow, shoulder and hip. But it can also occur in the Achilles tendon and foot.

Bursitis: what you should know

  • These are some common causes of bursitis:
    • Repetitive motion
    • Kneeling or leaning your elbows on a hard surface for a long time
    • An increase in activity level
    • Being overweight
    • Trauma to the joint, such as bumping it
  • Symptoms can vary for different joints. For example, with elbow bursitis, you may see a bubble (or sac) sticking out from the elbow. And with hip bursitis, you may at first feel a sharp, shooting pain at the point of your hip that soon becomes an achy, throbbing feeling.

How can I get help for bursitis?

See your doctor or a primary care sports medicine doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Tenderness when you press around the joint
  • Stiffness and aching when you move the joint
  • Swelling, warmth or redness over the joint

Care for bursitis at Rush

If you are diagnosed with bursitis, you may be treated by a primary sports medicine doctor or an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating that specific joint. Because Rush has every orthopedic specialty, you will receive expert care tailored to your needs.

Treatments for bursitis may include the following:

  • Rest, icing and anti-inflammatory pain medicines
  • Evaluation for any signs of infection
  • Draining the extra fluid from the bursa
  • Possible cortisteroid injection to relieve the inflammation in the bursa
  • If the inflammation doesn’t go away after all of these initial treatments, you may need surgery to remove the bursa. This allows a new, more normal bursa to develop over time. As often as possible, surgeons at Rush perform this surgery using small incisions (arthroscopic surgery), but traditional, open surgery may be necessary.

Why choose Rush for bursitis care

  • The orthopedics program at Rush is consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
  • As team physicians for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and many other teams, the sports medicine physicians at Rush are experts at diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating sports injuries in athletes — from Little Leaguers to the pros.
  • The Orthopedic Building offers one convenient place to go for orthopedic care. You can see an orthopedic specialist, get your imaging tests, have outpatient procedures and go through rehabilitation all under one roof.

Departments and programs that treat this condition