What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is the inflammation or irritation of a small, fluid-filled sac called a bursa. These sacs cushion areas where bone would touch a tendon. The bursa are designed to decrease friction, rubbing and inflammation of a tendon, however, when they become irritated by overuse or excessive pressure, it creates bursitis. This irritation may be sudden or slowly build up over time.

Bursa are located every where in your body. However, you are most likely to develop bursitis in joints that are frequently used. Such as:

  • Shoulders (Subacromial Bursitis)
  • Elbows (Olecranon Bursitis)
  • Knees (Prepatellar Bursitis)
  • Feet (Calcaneal, Retrocalcaneal, Metatarsophalangeal, Metatarsal bursitis)
  • Hips (Trochanteric Bursitis)
  • Pelvis (Ischial Bursitis)


  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth or redness around the area
  • Pain, especially with movement
  • Reduced joint mobility


  • Bursitis is commonly caused by overuse of a joint, especially by repetitive movements. Also, by spending
    time in a position that places pressure on a part of your body such as kneeling or leaning. On some
    occasions, a sudden injury or infection may cause bursitis.


Treating your bursitis needs to begin with reducing those activities that provoke your pain. You may need to
find other ways to exercise during this period which your osteopath can help you with.

Wrap some ice in a damp towel, and position it over the outside of your painful area for 10-15 minutes. This
will help to settle the inflammation. Monitor your skin to ensure the ice does not burn.

While medication is not usually needed longer term, you may find the use of oral anti-inflammatories such as
nurofen or voltaren or painkillers to help manage your symptoms. 


Your osteopath may provide exercises to stretch the tissues contributing to your irritation if this is deemed
relevant to your issues. Strengthening exercises may also be added if weakness is contributing to your pain.

Work with your osteopath to establish goals for your rehabilitation. This will ensure your recovery will carry
you through to get you back doing what you love most.

Download our patient information sheet on bursitis.

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