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Symptoms of Bursitis

An Explanation of Bursitis's Symptoms


The main symptom of bursitis is pain. The pain can be localized at the joint or radiate from a larger area depending on the number of bursae and the area being afflicted. The pain may be felt more within the joint or surrounding the joint. The pain may be a stinging or stabbing type of pain or an all encompassing ache. However, most often the pain is a dull pain accompanied with tenderness and stiffness of the joint in question. The pain may be easily exacerbated when manipulating the joint or pressing on the tender area. However the tenderness persist even when the joint is at rest.

Know More: Using a Visual Analog Pain Scale

The inflammation of the bursa sac may be noticeable through the skin. Swelling may occur around the bursa, often with tenderness at the same area and a redness to the skin. The skin at the swollen area may also be warm to the touch, having a localized "fever".

Note: if you possess an actual fever due to your bursitis you should seek the help of a doctor immediately since this is a symptom of Septic Bursitis where an infection that is causing the swelling of your bursitis. Other symptoms of Septic Bursitis include warmth, redness and tenderness of the affected area.

Muscle stiffness may also be present as the body tries to compensate for the injured area and alleviate some of the instigating trauma caused by the joint movement on the inflamed bursa. The muscle stiffness may result in a reduction in your range of motion at the afflicted joint.

Know More: Range of Motion through Body Links

Pain with bursitis usually can be instigated or worsened with movement of the joint with more pain occurring during use of the area and continuing for some time after the activity is stopped. This is often followed by stiffness in the area the following morning after the area has rested.

The stiffness may be the result of the muscle stiffness that was mentioned earlier, a build up of edema (a fluid the body uses to create a cast or brace to reduce movement and protect the injured area), or a build up of synovial fluid inside the bursa resulting from the injury and inflammation, When your bursitis is a repetitive stress injury, being caused by repetitive stress or motion, the pain will often gradually worsen, often going unnoticed or at least being of no concern in the initial onset. As the repetitive stress continues to injure the bursa the pain will increase as the inflammation increases and the bursa swells larger and becomes more tender. The pain progression may take weeks or even months depending on the amount of repetitive stress.

The pain progression may also come out of nowhere and become quite severe without any identifiable trigger event. If the cause was a period of overuse that has since been eliminated the pain may even disappear before you realized you had an injury. If the overuse then becomes more constant the previously injured and weakened bursa may flair up rather fast.

This rapid onset of pain may occur if the bursitis is the result of acute trauma or an injury. However this type of injury and pain progression is not that common without being able to identify the incident of injury (the triggering event).

Bursitis can occur within any bursa throughout the body, however most bursitis due to repetitive stress occurs at the major joints of the shoulder, elbow, hip, buttocks, knee, ankle (Achilles tendon), and bug toe (bunion). The symptoms of bursitis can vary depending on the bursa that is affected. If you are having pain at a joint that you suspect may be bursitis you should refer to the symptoms of that type of bursitis.

  • Shoulder Bursitis
  • Elbow Bursitis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Knee Bursitis
  • Bursitis of the Achilles Tendon
  • Bursitis of the Toes (Bunions)

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