Is It Really “Bursitis?”

Diagnosed with bursitis?

I have heard many aches and pains described as “bursitis” over the years. Many of my clients consider bursitis a chronic medical condition typically saying something like this, “Oh, I’ve had hip pain for 10 years. My doctor says it’s just bursitis.”

I often wonder, does this person know what bursitis is? Are they sure that it is something you can even have for 10 straight years? Well, it depends on the circumstance for their visit to me, but every chance I get I try to set the record straight. After all, education is key. Plato said, “If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life.” How true, right? Especially if your bursitis is in your hip!

What exactly is bursitis?

All conditions that end in “-itis” describe inflammation of a part of the body. In the case of bursitis, the inflammation is of a bursa in the body. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that has a purpose of reducing friction at a joint or area of muscle attachment. We have bursas all over all body but the most commonly inflamed bursas are at the elbow, shoulder and hip.

Typically with true bursitis, the inflamed bursae sac can be felt through the skin like a pocket of fluid. The joint may also be red, swollen and warm to touch with tenderness. Eventually these symptoms resolve, however, with or without treatment. So after the inflammation decreases, you no longer have bursitis.

If not bursitis, then what?

If there is a cycle of repetitive use or injury to the same joint, then the bursitis may reoccur, but it does not hang around in between injuries in most cases. That consistent hip or shoulder pain you’ve been experiencing is technically only bursitis when it is really flared up or swollen.

The pain that lingers is more likely due to muscles that are overworking or not working at all, along with poor postural alignment causing increased stress on the painful joint. Your body parts are all connected and must be on the same page working together, not against one another, to be pain-free!

Finding a lasting solution

So what is the answer to pain that isn’t “bursitis” and has been nagging at you for way too long? Well, I’m so glad you asked! I have many “tools in my toolbox” after 10 years of PT work, but the one I primarily use is called Postural Restoration. I often describe it as “untwisting your pretzel.” It is a process of re-training your brain and body to work together to re-align your posture.  You use your own muscles and calm down the overactive muscles while activating the muscles that aren’t doing their job. Sounds tricky, but it’s not. Physical therapists happen to be movement specialists!

Have you been plagued with “bursitis”? What roads of success or failure have you been down? Tell me about it!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.