The bursae are small fluid-filled sacs located near joints to reduce the amount of pressure and stress placed on the surrounding bones, muscles, and tendons. When these sacs become injured or irritated, they may become inflamed, causing a substantial amount of pain. This painful inflammation of a bursa is known as bursitis.
Bursitis may be caused gradually or rapidly. Regular, repetitive motions of low impact may gradually irritate the bursa until bursitis sets in. This is common in people who take part in physical jobs or leisure activities, such as carpentry, gardening, painting, scrubbing, shoveling, and many sports. Bursitis may also be the result of a sudden trauma or injury, such as a fall or auto accident. In either case, if symptoms are severe and do not improve within a week, see your doctor to rule out more serious injury or complications. Seek medical attention if you are not able to move the affected area, if the painful area is hot to the touch, or if you develop of fever greater than 102* Fahrenheit.
If your symptoms are minor and have been present for less than a week, there are some simple steps you can take to help ease pain at home:
Rest the area – Do not move the affected area more than necessary, especially if particular motions cause the pain to feel worse.
Immobilization the area – An ACE wrap or brace, such as those found at Walgreens, may help prevent further irritation.
Use ice or cold packs to reduce swelling – Store bought cold packs will have instructions for use, including recommended amount of time. Using actual ice may be problematic, since it does not mold well to the body. A package of frozen peas, however, has enough pliability to wrap around the painful area. Apply this for 10 to 20 minutes, making sure to place a barrier between the frozen item and the skin. Wrapping the frozen object in a dish towel, for instance, is usually enough to prevent frostbite while allowing enough coldness to reduce swelling.
Use over-the-counter painkillers – Speak with the pharmacist at your local drugstore before purchasing a new product, especially if you take other medications.