Conventional Medical Treatments for Bursitis
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is a painful, and normally temporary, condition that occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed or irritated. Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that act as a cushion to reduce friction between the bones, tendons and muscles that are located near joints. Most bursae are located near larger joints that perform repetitive motion.
Conventional treatments for bursitis
For the majority of cases, bursitis will resolve on its own. However, persistent cases may require other types of treatments. Conventional treatment options for bursitis include physical therapy, occupational therapy, medications, injections or aspiration, and potential surgery.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy is often recommended in order to regain strength and restore movement and function in the affected area. A physical therapist can help develop personalized exercise programs, analyze posture or walking, and educate on overuse. Physical therapy treatments may include a combination of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning.
- Occupational therapy
Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of rehabilitative care. It is frequently recommended for individuals who have difficulty performing certain daily tasks. OT can provide ways to move and position the body that are gentler on the affected area. Additionally, a therapist can aid with the suggestion and fitting of braces or splints and recommend mobility or adaptive devices.
Over-the-counter medicine, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs, are regularly used to help with pain and inflammation. If bursitis is caused by infection, antibiotics are often prescribed to treat the infection.
- Injections or aspiration
A health care professional may recommend an injection or aspiration of the bursa to reduce pain and inflammation. In the case of aseptic bursitis, a corticosteroid will be injected into the bursa. Aspiration may be suggested for septic bursitis. This involves a needle removing fluid from the bursa and can be done repeatedly.
A bursectomy is the surgical removal of a bursa. It is less common and will typically occur only if symptoms persist and other treatment options fail after six months to a year. It involves the removal of the inflamed bursa around a joint. Recovery time is approximately six weeks. If a tendon is repaired during the bursectomy, recovery time is estimated to be three months.