Bursa, bursa everywhere

Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas Physical Therapist at AHS

What is a bursa? A bursa is a fluid filled sac that helps things move easily at the major joints in the body. A Bursa appears at a junction of a tendon on the bone. It protects and brakes the shocks of the joint. The structures nearby the bursa can move with minimal friction due to irritation. There are over 150 bursae. Sometime these bursae become inflamed or irritated, resulting in a condition called bursitis. This happens most often in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet.

Causes/Risk Factors:

These are risk factors using the olecranon process (elbow) as an example. Overuse of the joint: for example vacuuming for hours on end. Repetitive strain: for example picking up and lifting heavy loads. Trauma: by falling on your elbow or bumping it against something. Pressure: leaning on the elbow at a desk is a common cause of bursitis among students. Bacterial infection: from an infected wound (this is called septic bursitis). Other inflammatory diseases: Gout for instance: the gout crystals can form in the bursa and cause the inflammation. Other causes include: constant friction, thumping or pressure, bursitis often appears with tendinitis or after a forced period of rest. Diabetes, osteoarthritis and disability of the thyroid gland can be associated with bursitis.

How it presents will depend on the location of the bursitis. There will likely be pain and discomfort over the affected area, and there will often be visible swelling.


Total immobilization is avoided. Instead, activities should be modified to limit further overuse injury.  When bursitis is due to movement/activity (without infection): you should rest/modify activities to reduce strain on the affected area, ice, NSAID’s and possibly steroid injections. Once improvement is noticeable then it is time to regain strengthening and gradually increase exercise.

How can we help?

Here at Allied Health Solutions we will tailor exercises and stretches to your specific deficits and give you the tools you need to improve on your own time. We will use hands on therapy techniques to reduce pain and help you return to the activities that are most important to you.


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