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Important Symptoms of Bursitis to Watch Out For

Senior man with knee pain

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  • Bursitis can strike anywhere when you least expect it. It normally causes pain around a joint, which can make you think that you have arthritis
  • The following are symptoms for each type of bursitis that can help you identify if you have the condition

Bursae are found throughout your body, serving as a cushion between a bone and other body parts, such as muscles, skin or tendons. Because of this, bursitis can strike unexpectedly at any time. It normally causes pain around a joint, which can make you think that you have arthritis.

To properly identify what type of bursitis you have, be sure to review the following symptoms:1

Elbow Bursitis

This condition is sometimes known as olecranon bursitis. The olecranon refers to the pointy bone at the tip of the elbow, and the bursa is located between this boney tip and the elbow skin. Should your elbow bursa receive trauma or some other cause, you may notice symptoms, such as:2

  • Pain at the tip of the elbow
  • Swelling at the elbow, which can look like a golf ball
  • Tenderness, redness and warmth on the affected elbow can appear
  • Possibly a fever
  • If the cause is a bacterial infection, the bursa can break open and drain pus

Hip Bursitis

Your hip bursa is located at the outer side of your hip that meets with the upper thigh bone. Should you have hip bursitis, you’ll begin to feel pain in this area specifically. However, there may be additional symptoms, such as:3

  • Radiating pain on the outside of the lower hip, which can expand down to the outside of the thigh
  • Fever (if the cause is a bacterial infection)
  • Swelling
  • Redness on the skin

Ankle Bursitis

One of the main causes of ankle bursitis is uneven pressure on your bursa because of running or exercising on jagged surfaces and roads. As such, it could damage your bursa, causing localized pain on your ankles. Other indicators to watch out for include:4

  • Limping
  • Decreased movement
  • Pain and tenderness in the back of your ankle
  • Worsening pain when pressure is applied
  • Fever

Foot Bursitis

Foot bursitis, or intermetatarsal bursitis, affects one or more of your toe joints. Just like heel bursitis, toe bursitis can develop from repeated strain on your foot or an injury sustained from sports. Other times, wearing the wrong shoes for the job, or footwear that’s too tight can cause pain.5

The metatarsal bursae are found near the bottom of your toes, and there are even smaller bursae found between the metatarsal bones and the intermetatarsal spaces. If many bursae are affected, it can cause immense pain whenever you try to walk, jump or run.6

Knee and Kneecap Bursitis

When the bursa between your kneecap and knee skin becomes inflamed, you have a condition known as infrapatellar bursitis. Oftentimes, this arises from constant strain on your knees, such as prolonged kneeling. This is one of the reasons why kneecap bursitis is nicknamed the “clergyman’s knee,” due to the condition being common among them.7 Prominent indicators include:8

  • Pain in front of the knee during any sort of activity, but not usually at night
  • Rapid swelling in front of the kneecap
  • Tenderness and warmth in the kneecap

Aside from kneecap bursitis, you may also develop bursitis inside your knee, which is sometimes called pes anserine bursitis. The knee bursa is located between the shinbone and the three hamstring tendons inside the knee. When it becomes inflamed, pain usually develops in the center of the knee joint, or 2 or 3 inches below it. In addition, pain can be felt when performing strenuous tasks or while exercising.9

Shoulder Bursitis

The bursa in your shoulder is located below the shoulder blade called the acromion. Its role is to prevent friction between the muscles and tendons in the acromion. When it becomes inflamed, it takes on a new name — subacromial bursitis.10

In subacromial bursitis, one significant indicator is the presence of shoulder pain, especially when lifting your arms overhead. Over time, the pain worsens, and you may even feel it even if you’re not moving your shoulders at all.11

Septic Bursitis

Septic bursitis is a special subtype of bursal inflammation that occurs when bacteria enters any bursa, usually through an open wound, scrape or puncture. In addition, septic bursitis causes additional symptoms to appear aside.12

Fever, chills and extreme warmth at the infected bursa are all hallmarks of septic bursitis. If left untreated, the infection can reach your bloodstream, causing you to develop additional systemic complications, which can be fatal. Should you develop a fever after getting bursitis, visit a doctor immediately.13


Bursitis: An Introduction

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis Types

Hip Bursitis

Elbow Bursitis

Knee Bursitis

Shoulder Bursitis

Heel Bursitis

Septic Bursitis

Bursitis Causes

Bursitis Symptoms

Bursitis Treatment

Bursitis Prevention

Bursitis Diet

Bursitis FAQ

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Bursitis Causes

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Bursitis Treatment

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