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Bursitis

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Andy's a good tennis player. Correction: Andy is a great tennis player. He loves the competition and intensity of the game and is known for his dominating serve.

Recently Andy developed pain in his shoulder. At first he thought nothing of it and continued his training, but the pain became unbearable. The pain was so bad he went to see his doctor, who informed him he had shoulder bursitis.

bursitis shoulder joint

What Is Bursitis?

From your head down to your big toes, your body has lots of differently shaped and sized joints. Many have something in common near the area of the joint — a customized fluid sac that provides cushioning for movement and pressure. These small cushions are known as bursae (a single one is called a bursa). Bursitis is the term used to describe inflammation or irritation of a bursa. Bursitis can result from a direct hit or from repetitive joint movements (like a tennis serve).

If a bursa becomes irritated, either by a direct hit or from a nearby joint repeating the same movement (like a tennis serve), then bursitis can occur. People can also get bursitis when the body has to change its balance or movement to adapt to differences; for example, if a person has one leg that's shorter than the other.

Where Does Bursitis Occur?

Bursitis, especially in teens, is often likely to happen because of sports-related injuries, usually from repeated use of a particular joint or trauma from a direct hit in a contact sport. It's not only sporty types who get bursitis, though. It can sometimes be caused by other problems, such as arthritis or a bacterial infection of the bursa.

Here are some of the areas in which teens most commonly get bursitis:

How to Detect Bursitis

Bursitis can cause a number of different symptoms:

How to Treat Bursitis

In most cases, you will probably be able to treat bursitis at home.

The key part of at-home treatment, as with many injuries, is rest. Besides resting the affected joint or region, to help get rid of bursitis try:

Avoiding Bursitis

Bursitis is often the result of a hard impact on a joint or overworking a joint, and sometimes these injuries are unavoidable. But taking these steps can help you avoid getting bursitis:

If you realize that a particular activity causes you to get bursitis, stop doing it and talk to your doctor or coach about safer methods.

Be on the lookout for bursitis if you participate in a sport. The best way to avoid it is by using the proper techniques and equipment. If your bursitis was caused by something like ill-fitting shoes or other equipment, replace that equipment with something that fits you better.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: December 2013

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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