What is Chronic Bursitis

What is Bursitis?

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Inflammation of bursae, the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints. Very common (More than 500,000 cases per year in Canada). Treatment from a medical professional is advised. Rarely requires lab tests or imaging. Can last several months or years. Common for ages 50 and older

Chronic bursitis in elbow

Bursitis (bur-SY-tis) is a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs — called bursae (bur-SEE) — that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed.

The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow, and hip. But you can also have bursitis by your knee, heel, and the base of your big toe. Bursitis often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion.

Treatment typically involves resting the affected joint and protecting it from further trauma. In most cases, bursitis pain goes away within a few weeks with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common.

It’s usually caused by repeated pressure on an area or by using a joint too much. High-risk activities include gardening, raking, carpentry, shoveling, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, and throwing. You can also get bursitis by sitting or standing the wrong way for a long time at work or home, or by not stretching enough before you exercise. A sudden injury can sometimes cause bursitis.


If you have bursitis, the affected joint might:

  • Feel achy or stiff
  • Hurt more when you move it or press on it
  • Look swollen and red


The most common causes of bursitis are repetitive motions or positions that put pressure on the bursae around a joint. Examples include:

  • Throwing a baseball or lifting something over your head repeatedly
  • Leaning on your elbows for long periods
  • Extensive kneeling for tasks such as laying carpet or scrubbing floors

An infection, especially with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, can sometimes cause bursitis.

Other causes include injury or trauma to the affected area, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and infection.

Bursitis Types

Bursitis might affect you:

  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip or thigh
  • Buttocks
  • Knee
  • Achilles tendon or heel

Risk factors

Anyone can develop bursitis, but certain factors can increase your risk:

  • Age. Bursitis becomes more common with aging.
  • Occupations or hobbies. If your work or hobby requires repetitive motion or pressure on particular bursae, your risk of developing bursitis increases. Examples include carpet laying, tile setting, gardening, painting, and playing a musical instrument.
  • Other medical conditions. Certain systemic diseases and conditions — such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes — increase your risk of developing bursitis. Being overweight can increase your risk of developing hip and knee bursitis.


While not all types of bursitis can be prevented, you can reduce your risk and the severity of flare-ups by changing the way you do certain tasks. Examples include:

  • Using kneeling pads. Use some type of padding to reduce the pressure on your knees if your job or hobby requires a lot of kneeling.
  • Lifting properly. Bend your knees when you lift. Failing to do so puts extra stress on the bursae in your hips.
  • Wheeling heavy loads. Carrying heavy loads puts stress on the bursae in your shoulders. Use a dolly or a wheeled cart instead.
  • Taking frequent breaks. Alternate repetitive tasks with rest or other activities.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight places more stress on your joints.
  • Exercising. Strengthening your muscles can help protect your affected joints.
  • Warm up and stretch before strenuous activities to protect your joints from injury.


Doctors can often diagnose bursitis based on a medical history and physical exam. Testing, if needed, might include:

  • Imaging tests. X-ray images can’t positively establish the diagnosis of bursitis, but they can help to exclude other causes of your discomfort. Ultrasound or MRI might be used if your bursitis can’t easily be diagnosed by a physical exam alone.
  • Lab tests. Your doctor might order blood tests or an analysis of fluid from the inflamed bursa to pinpoint the cause of your joint inflammation and pain.


Bursitis generally gets better on its own. Conservative measures, such as rest, ice, and taking a pain reliever, can relieve discomfort.

If conservative measures don’t work, you might require:

  • Medication. If the inflammation in your bursa is caused by an infection, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Therapy. Physical therapy or exercises can strengthen the muscles in the affected area to ease pain and prevent a recurrence.
  • Injections. A corticosteroid drug injected into the bursa can relieve pain and inflammation in your shoulder or hip. This treatment generally works quickly and, in many cases, one injection is all you need.
  • Assistive device. Temporary use of a walking cane or other devices will help relieve pressure on the affected area.
  • Surgery. Sometimes an inflamed bursa must be surgically drained, but only rarely is the surgical removal of the affected bursa necessary.

As an alternative, acupuncture can provide symptomatic relief of the pain of bursitis and is much safer than anti-inflammatory drugs or injections of steroids. You can also take two 500 mg capsules of powdered ginger once or twice a day. Ginger is an effective natural anti-inflammatory agent.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Measures you can take to relieve the pain of bursitis include:

  • Rest and don’t overuse the affected area.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling for the first 48 hours after symptoms occur.
  • Apply dry or moist heat, such as a heating pad, or take a warm bath.
  • Take an over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Some are available in a form you apply to the skin.
  • Cushion your knees if you sleep on your side by placing a small pillow between your legs.

Herbal/Natural Remedies

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

The first one among the best home remedies for bursitis pain you can make use of is to use apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is a great commonly used treatment for bursitis. It can aid a lot in restoring the alkalinity of your body, which in turn can help to reduce inflammation.

Moreover, minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in apple cider vinegar can aid in balancing the fluids. There are 2 ways you can try at home to make use of this ingredient to deal with signs and symptoms of bursitis:

  • First, you just need to try mixing 1 tbsp. of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and some raw honey in 1 glass of water. Consume this tonic 2 times per day for a few days.
  • Alternatively, try soaking a thin towel in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and use it to wrap the infected area for several hours on a daily basis.

2. Ginger

Ginger is a natural pain reliever that can aid a lot in reducing the discomfort and pain of bursitis, according to research. It also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities similar to ibuprofen or aspirin. Moreover, it can help to improve blood circulation, which also helps to promote the healing process:

  • First, try boiling 1 tbsp. of sliced ginger in 2 cups of water and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain, add raw honey for taste, and consume the solution two to three times throughout the day.
  • Wrap three to four tbsps. of freshly grated ginger in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it tightly. Place this in hot water within half a minute. Let it cool down, then put it on the infected joint within about ten minutes. Apply this method two or three times throughout the day.
  • Another choice you can try is to use ginger oil to massage the infected area a few times throughout the day.

3. Castor Oil

Castor oil is another very effective one among the best home remedies for bursitis in the elbow, knee, hip, and shoulder you can find out there and try it at home.

Castor oil can help to reduce swelling and pain in the joints, according to a study. The ricinoleic acid in castor oil contains anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in minimizing inflammation and relieving pain. It can even help a lot in improving the mobility of the joints.

  • Soak a piece of wool flannel in cold-pressed castor oil.
  • Place it onto the infected joints and use a plastic wrap to cover it.
  • Put a hot water bottle or a heating pad on it and use an old towel to cover that.
  • Let it stay within about thirty to forty minutes, then remove it.
  • Rub the oily residue left gently on the skin or use warm water to wash it off.
  • Use this method three or four times for one week.

4. Massage

Massage is also a great one among home remedies for bursitis in the shoulder, knee, hip, and elbow as it makes the pain go away and improves your joint health.

Massage can really aid in reducing the discomfort from a sore joint. It can help to improve blood circulation and reduce stiffness and swelling. It can also help to relax your body.

You can do the massage yourself or get it done by an expert.

  • Heat up some coconut, olive, mustard, or sesame oil.
  • Use the warm oil to apply directly to the infected area.
  • Use the warm oil to massage gentle yet firm pressure within about ten minutes.
  • Place a warm towel on the infected area.
  • Apply this method 3 – 5 times per day until your disease improves.

Note: Do not use the massage method if the infection is causing your bursitis.

5. Warm Compress

After 48 hours for acute bursitis or any time for chronic bursitis, warm compresses are really useful for you. They can aid a lot in improving blood flow to the infected joints, reducing stiffness, and fighting inflammation.

  • Use warm (not scalding) water to dampen a thin towel.
  • Apply it on the infected area within about fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Repeat this method 3 – 5 times throughout the day.

You can also use a heating pad or a hot water bottle as a warm compress. You can even wash the infected area using warm water.

To discover more home remedies for bursitis in the hip, shoulder, knee, and elbow, do not leave this article yet try to keep reading it to the end for good!

6. Cold Compress

When dealing with pain and swelling due to bursitis, a cold compress is really a good remedy. The cold temperature can aid a lot in bringing down the first swelling and reducing pain by numbing the infected area. It can also help in reducing inflammation and tenderness.

Cold compresses are often most useful as used within 24 – 48 hours of developing bursitis.

  • Wrap 3 – 5 ice cubes in a thin towel.
  • Place the ice pack gently on the infected joints within fifteen minutes.
  • After removing it, lift the joints above your heart and rest.
  • Repeat 3 – 5 times throughout the day until you get relief.

Note: Do not apply ice directly onto your skin because it can lead to frostbite


DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), derived from wood pulp, can also aid a lot in curing the disease. Available in gel and liquid form, you can use it as a topical analgesic for fast, temporary relief of swelling and pain. It can help to penetrate easily and promote the healing process of inflammation of pockets.

  • Apply a 70% solution of DMSO on the infected joints using a cotton ball.
  • Use it to rub gently to improve its effectiveness and absorption.
  • Use this treatment two or three times throughout the day for a few days.

DMSO may feel warm to the touch as it is applied, but it brings about 3 – 5 side effects. If you do not see improvement after trying this home treatment, then stop applying it.

Keep reading the article for more useful natural home remedies for bursitis in the hip, elbow, shoulder, and knee that you can try in the comfort of your home.

8. Milk Of Magnesia

Milk of magnesia can fight pain and inflammation in the joints. Being abundant in magnesium, which is an anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory substance, it can relieve inflammation in the body. This, in fact, is among the best home remedies for bursitis pain relief that you can try at home with the help of magnesia milk:

  • First, try taking a glass of water with 1 tsp. of milk of magnesia 2 times per day for a week.
  • In addition, you can try including magnesium-rich foods in your daily diet, such as bananas, dark leafy greens, lentils, beans, and oats.
  • Alternatively, after consulting your doctor, you can try taking a magnesium supplement.

9. White Willow Bark

Herbal professionals recommend using white willow bark to reduce the appearance of signs and symptoms caused by bursitis. A compound called salicin in this herbal remedy can work well as a natural painkiller. It can also help a lot in reducing swelling and inflammation.

  • First, try taking a white willow bark supplement every day after consulting a prestigious doctor.
  • Alternatively, try adding ½ tsp. of dried white willow bark to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover, let it stay within about fifteen minutes, and strain it. Consume this tea two times throughout the day.

Note: This herbal remedy is not suitable for kids and people taking blood-thinning medications.

10. Turmeric

Turmeric is a great one among home remedies for bursitis in the shoulder, knee, hip, and elbow as it makes the pain go away and improves your joint health.

The yellow pigment known as curcumin in turmeric is an extremely useful anti-inflammatory agent. Thus, turmeric is perfect for reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling. It can help a lot in curing both chronic and acute joint pain.

  • First, after consulting your doctor, you can try taking a curcumin supplement every day.
  • Boil 1 tsp. of turmeric powder within 1 glass of milk. Add some raw honey and consume it 2 times per day for at least 3 – 5 days.

Note: Avoid excessive consumption of turmeric as it may interfere with certain medications; for example, blood thinners.

11. Orange Juice

The last tip on the list of home remedies for bursitis in shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip naturally people should make use is to use orange juice.

Vitamin C is really a powerful nutrient. Its antioxidant properties make it a good addition to the diet, particularly as you are in the recovery process from an injury. Vitamin C is essential for repairing and preventing injuries. Not getting sufficient amounts of vitamin C has been proven to hinder proper maintenance and formation of bursas. Men and women older than fifteen years of age need 60 milligrams at least per day. Consume just ¾ cup of orange juice a day, and you will meet your daily quota.

Always consult your doctor before taking herbal remedies and if you are suffering from constant pain.

Thank you for reading


Comments are welcome

4 thoughts on “What is Chronic Bursitis”

  1. This article on chronic bursitis was very elaborate, I learned a lot from it. I don’t have these problems yet, so I didn’t know the details of the symptoms, causes, types, and risk factors. However, it is good to know how to alleviate it preventively, what techniques to use and what to eat. 



    • Hi Nina,

      Thank you for your comments. I do believe the more informed we are the better we can protect ourselves from health issues.

      Best wishes,


  2. Thank you for sharing this. i have learnt that The doctor may remove fluid from the bursa with a needle and send it to
     the lab for analysis. This analysis will help determine if the bursitis
     is due to an infection or rheumatoid condition or trauma). Bursitis in
     the knee and elbow are especially prone to infection. Removal of the
     fluid might alleviate some of the pain.

    • Hi Lucas, 

      Thank you for your comments. I can easily see how bursitis can be mistaken for arthritis. I appreciate you sharing this information.

      Best wishes,



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