Understanding Different Treatments for Bursitis

By Alley Benton
Updated February 9, 2017
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Understanding Different Treatments for BursitisMost of the time, treatment for bursitis involves self-care and over-the-counter remedies. You should see an improvement in a few weeks, although the swelling can remain for some time. If there is an infection present, it may take much longer. Let's take a look at the different options in terms of treatment for bursitis.

Understanding the Treatments for Bursitis:

1. Self-Care

You can do quite a few things to alleviate the symptoms of bursitis. Resting the joint and ensuring you do not strain it is very important. You could also wear padding around the joint, to protect it from more injuries. Ice packs help to bring inflammation and pain down. This can be done by applying a home made pack (frozen peas in a towel, for instance) to the affected joint for 10 to 20 minutes every couple of hours. Also, you need to make sure that you do not sleep on the affected joint. It is best to sleep on your back and make sure that the joint is higher than the level of your heart. Losing weight can also be important. Finally, you could opt to take over-the-counter painkillers, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), to help relieve the pain and swelling. Make sure, however, that you read the label properly.

2. Aspiration

Aspiration is generally offered only to people with severe bursitis pain. A needle is inserted into the joint to drain the fluid out of it. You will need to immobilize the affected joint for around 48 hours after aspiration.

3. Corticosteroids

These are often offered to people with severe bursitis pain and who are usually unresponsive to other forms of treatment. Corticosteroids are based on steroids, which are hormones that can affect various other parts of the body. It needs to be carefully considered, therefore, and it is very important that you speak to your physician about these issues.

4. Antibiotics

Antibiotics are offered to those with septic bursitis, which means that the fluid sack has become infected. Common antibiotics include clarithromycin, erythromycin, and flucloxacillin. You will be prescribed a specific dosage for a certain period of time, and it is important that you follow the instructions provided. You will usually also have to visit your physician after a few days to determine whether the infection is responding to the antibiotics. If not, you will usually have to keep taking the antibiotics for longer or shift to a different one.

5. Specialist Referrals

If there is no improvement in your symptoms after a few months despite treatment, then you may be referred to a specialist, including:

- An orthopedic surgeon who may look into surgical options for your condition.

- A rheumatologist, who specializes in conditions of the joints, muscles, and bones.

6. Surgery

In very rare cases, surgery is needed to treat bursitis. In this case, the bursa that is affected will actually be removed. Most commonly, this is offered to people with septic bursitis and where the infection does not respond to antibiotic treatment. In some cases, the entire bursa will be removed, whereas in other cases, a small incision will be made in order to drain the bursa from the fluids.





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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.