Open Accessibility Menu

Should I See a Doctor for Bursitis?

  • Posted On:
Should I See a Doctor for Bursitis?

A bursa (plural: bursae) is a fluid-filled sac cushioning the bones from the connective tissues such as the tendons, muscles, and skin to help the joints work smoothly. The body has 160 bursae major joints of the body – everywhere from the shoulders to the big toe. Bursitis happens when the bursae become inflamed, and it can be short-term resulting from an injury or infection and go away on its own in some cases. For others, bursitis is a long-term (chronic) repetitive movement injury that occurs in the overused joint, such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, or knees.

You should call your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Joint pain that lasts more than 2 weeks, even while at rest
  • Pain radiating to nearby areas
  • Warmth or redness over the joint
  • Inability to move the affected joint
  • Unusual swelling near the joint
  • Fever in addition to the above symptoms

How Is Bursitis Diagnosed?

Your doctor usually will diagnose bursitis upon a physical examination and order X-ray imaging studies to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential causes of joint pain. For instance, you may have bone spurs or arthritis. Many patients require aspiration to rule out gout or infection, too. This process involves using an empty syringe to extract fluid from the swollen bursa and evaluating it under a microscope. Sometimes blood tests may be necessary to check for arthritis or diabetes, and MRI scans can be useful if other conservative measures have failed to improve your symptoms.

How Is Bursitis Treated?

Initial treatment for bursitis includes “RICE” – rest, ice, compression, and elevation, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (over-the-counter pain medication). Corticosteroid injections may be necessary to eliminate swelling. Sometimes, needle aspiration can also be part of the treatment plan as well as a diagnostic tool in order to relieve pressure. For persistent bursitis, surgery is a rare step to remove the inflamed bursae. Physical therapy is often prescribed for patients with chronic bursitis to stretch and strengthen the affected joint(s) as well as relieve pain.

What Happens to Untreated Bursitis?

While some cases of bursitis heal on their own, it’s best to involve a doctor if you have pain from a repetitive movement injury or lingering pain after 2 weeks. Complications of bursitis can lead to muscle atrophy from less use of the affected joint in addition to permanent thickening of the bursa that leads to chronic pain and inflammation. Bursitis can also recur after healing, especially for those who regularly engage in physical labor or other strenuous activities.

Contact Us at Fox Valley Orthopedics for Bursitis Treatment

Do you have bursitis? Our orthopedists at Fox Valley Orthopedics use advanced care to diagnose, treat, and manage these types of orthopedic conditions with minimally invasive treatment. Surgery is only rarely required for bursitis, and typically it will go away on its own with non- or minimally invasive treatments.

To book an appointment at Fox Valley Orthopedics, please call (630) 584-1400 today.