The bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs near the joints that cushion the bone, tendons, and muscles and protect them from impact and friction. If the sacs become inflamed due to trauma to the area, impact, or repetitive motion damage, they can be painful. Factors such as by poor posture, poor stretching and conditioning prior to exercise, and age can also lead to bursitis. Arthritis can also place a strain on a joint and cause bursitis. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, thyroid conditions, and reactions to medication can also increase the risk of developing bursitis.
Bursitis is more common in adults over 40 years of age. The most commonly affected joints include the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and Achilles tendon; as tendons age, they become less elastic and are more likely to tear. Although most instances of bursitis are minor, with pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness the most common symptoms, pain may continue to build into a more serious condition, resulting in severe loss of motion in the shoulder, called adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder.
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The best way to avoid bursitis is to avoid injury. If you are planning to begin an exercise program, build up slowly and increase only as your strength or stamina develops. Stop doing exercises when pain occurs, and avoid activities that aggravate the injury. The most common treatments for bursitis are rest, ice to reduce the swelling, and over the counter anti-inflammatory medications.
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