Bursitis: Causes and Symptoms

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Bursae are small sacs filled with rich fluid that help cushion the areas of friction between the bones and tendons. Bursae are seen in the elbows, shoulders, hip, heels, knees etc. The bursae are lined with synovial cells which secrete Synovial fluid which is rich in proteins and collagen. This fluid acts as a lubricant between various body parts and joints.

Bursitis is the condition where the synovial fluid in the bursae gets infected with bacteria or disturbed due to too much friction.

The various causes of bursitis are as follows:

  • Injury: Injuries may cause the blood vessel to widen often resulting in extra cellular fluids and proteins to seep into the bursae. This makes the bursae act against these foreign substances which cause swelling and strain in the bursae. Aggressive movements and motions, prolonged kneeling on hard surfaces etc cause chronic injuries and trauma to the bursae.
  • Septic bursitis is caused due to bacterial infections like staphylococcus. Septic bursitis is most commonly seen in men. People with kidney disorders, diabetes alcoholics and patients taking steroids are most likely to develop this problem.
  • Bursitis is also developed from crystal deposits. People who are unable to break down uric acid which is a by-product of normal metabolism are more prone to this condition. The uric acid forms into crystals and accumulates in the bursae.

The general symptoms of bursitis are swelling, tenderness, pain and difficulty in movement of the region.

Bursitis affects various joints and may give specific symptoms to specific regions.

  • Shoulder: Bursitis in the shoulder often leads to severe pain which may be difficult to differentiate from a rotator cuff injury. The pain is felt in the front and side of the shoulder which often worsens during night. The patient may also see a decreased movement in that region.
  • Elbow: A painfully red and tender swelling may appear behind the elbow. The pain may increase with bending or extending the elbow.
  • Knee: Bursitis in the knee is very common with a severe pain in the midcalf. The pain increases with extending and bending the knee.



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