©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Bursitis is caused by bumping or bruising, repeated pressure, or overuse.

You head out to the backyard after a long winter indoors to turn over your garden. The fresh air smells sweet, and you spend the afternoon pulling weeds. As the sun sets and you head inside, you feel an unfamiliar pain in your shoulder. The dull ache becomes a more intense pain, and you start to think you might be getting arthritis. Because it causes pain and stiffness near the joint, many people mistake bursitis for arthritis. But bursitis is a different problem altogether.

The painful inflammation of a bursa is called bursitis. It's caused by bumping or bruising, repeated pressure, or overuse. Bursitis has some funny nicknames. It's called Housemaid's Knee, Clergyman's Knee, and Baker's Cyst, among others. Despite its nicknames, bursitis does not affect only the knee. It can hit any major joint, including the shoulder, elbow, hip, ankle, heel, or base of the big toe. Anyone who's experienced the pain of bursitis knows that it's no laughing matter.

The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that helps protect muscle, ligaments, tendons, or skin that rubs across bone. There are 150 bursae throughout our bodies, but the ones most likely to become inflamed are those in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and heels.

Though bursitis is associated with physical activity, you don't have to be an athlete to develop the condition. Anytime you exercise too strenuously, especially after laying off your workout for a while, you can aggravate bursitis. You can also have bursitis problems if your work or hobbies require repetitive physical movements, especially lifting things over your head. And sometimes bursitis can just flare up for no good reason.

Though most people associate bursitis with the older crowd, the condition is not limited to that age group; it affects young and old alike. And once you've had one attack of bursitis, it tends to come back again and again. Bursitis does mimic other conditions, so it's helpful to know what its symptoms are. If you have any of these symptoms, you may indeed have bursitis:  

  • Pain is specific and localized.
  • Pain can be characterized as a dull ache or stiffness.
  • Pain is predominantly in joint areas. 
  • Pain gets worse with movement.
  • Affected area feels swollen or warm to the touch.  

Fortunately, there are some simple, everyday, steps you can take to relieve the pain of bursitis and get back in the gym. In the next section, we'll offer home remedies to ax the ache.

For more information on conditions related to bursitis, and their treatment options, try the following links:  

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.