What causes bursitis?
Often no specific incident or activity can be singled out as the cause of bursitis. The bursa can become inflamed if it becomes injured or infected, or through arthritis in the joint. Even daily activities, when repeated, may give rise to bursitis, such as typing, cleaning, and using tools. Overuse and incorrect use of the limbs in sports and athletics can also lead to bursitis. Irritation results because the bursa swells beyond the space it is supposed to fill as a result of injury or infection, and causes pressure. The resulting tenderness or pain may reduce a person’s ability to move the affected joint. When bursitis occurs in certain areas of the body, it is often linked to the repetitive motions of the common activities listed below:
Ankle - Ankle bursitis may result from improper footwear, overuse in sports like ice-skating, or prolonged walking.
Buttocks - The bursa over the bone in the buttocks may result from long periods of sitting on a hard surface (a bicycle seat, for example).
Elbow - Bursitis of the elbow can be caused by repetitively bending and extending the elbow, as when vacuuming, playing tennis, or baseball.
Hip - Hip bursitis is commonly associated with arthritis or a hip injury. Prolonged standing or sitting can place pressure on the hip that leads to hip bursitis.
Knee - Any activity that calls for kneeling, such as gardening, or installing floor tile, may lead to a soft, egg-shaped bump on the front of the knees. A direct blow to the kneecap can lead to bursitis of the knee, as can having arthritis and being overweight.
Shoulder - Repetitive activities involving reaching overhead with the arm, lifting, or a fall can irritate the bursa near the rotator cuff, (the muscles and tendons linking the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade). Shoulder bursitis and a rotator cuff injury can be hard to tell apart.
Some factors might contribute to the development of bursitis. A person has a higher-than-average risk of developing bursitis, for example, in people whose work requires repetitive motions. Likewise, bursitis often occurs in people who are not physically fit or have poor posture, and also in older people, as the bursa breaks down over time. In addition to the risks associated with injury, overuse and stress, some diseases and conditions increase the risk of developing bursitis, including:
Bursitis occurs most frequently as a result of overuse, injury, infection or arthritis. During a severe case of bursitis, joint stiffness can occur. But how can you be sure that you are experiencing bursitis, or not? Learn to identify the signs of inflammation of the bursa and symptoms of bursitis here.
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