Caring for Bursitis

By Floria, Barbara 
March 21, 2017

Caring for Bursitis

Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that lubricate and cushion pressure points between the bones, tendons and muscles near the joints. If you have pain when you move or put pressure on a joint, you may have bursitis, an inflammation of a bursa.

Bursitis often affects the shoulders, knees, elbows or hips. The pain usually goes away within a week or two with proper self-care, but flare-ups can occur if you don’t stop the activity that caused the condition.


Bursitis can have several causes:

  • Injury from sports activities, such as baseball, tennis, racquetball and running

  • Overuse of joints doing household chores, such as yard work, shoveling snow or house painting

  • Prepatellar bursitis resulting from kneeling on a hard surface for long periods

  • Olecranon bursitis resulting from repeated pressure on the point of the elbow; it often occurs when someone leans on a desk for a long time

Symptoms and self-care

Symptoms of this condition include swelling, redness and pain in the affected area, which is normally near a joint.

Here's what to do to relieve the pain:

  • Rest the affected area.

  • Put an ice pack on the area for 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a day.

  • Take ibuprofen, such as Advil, to relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Don’t put any pressure on the area until the swelling subsides.

  • Maintain your range of motion by moving the joint to keep it from getting stiff.

  • Gradually build strength in the area with gentle exercise.

  • Wait three to six weeks before returning to the sport or task that caused your condition.

If symptoms persist, your doctor may remove excess fluid from the swollen area with a needle and syringe or inject the area with a steroid drug.


Avoiding overuse or repetitive stress on a joint can help prevent bursitis.


March 21, 2017


Vitality magazine/October 2006

Reviewed By:  

Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN,Lambert, J.G. M.D.,Sara FosterSara Foster RN MPH