Bursitis Symptoms

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Bursitis


So, we have explained what bursitis is - an inflammation of a bursa, a small fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion between joints and the surrounding tissues.

Symptoms of Bursitis

Bursitis Symptoms in Knee
Bursitis symptoms of the knee

Bursitis symptoms are typically acute or chronic in nature. Acute symptoms result from a trauma or infection in one of your bursas. With the onset of these symptoms, the pain quite sudden and sharp and can be severe. Chronic bursitis symptoms are more common and they typically include a dull pain or ache resulting from a sustained or repetitive pressure on the bursa over time.

Going into more detail, there are various symptoms of bursitis, but the most common I see are:

  1. Pain around the affected joint on movement. Bursitis pain often starts with pain on movement of the surrounding joint. People sometimes come to me thinking that they have a shoulder joint or a hip joint problem. Often, they have been given this diagnosis by their doctor or physician.

    It takes a thorough examination and assessment to correctly diagnose a bursitis. Early intervention is an important factor, as chronic bursitis is more difficult to resolve fully. Seek a good chartered physiotherapist’s advice at an early stage where possible. Early intervention is the key.

  2. Swelling and redness around the bursa. Bursitis is commonly associated with redness and swelling around the affected joint. This is as a result of the inflammation associated with bursitis. Bursitis is where the fluid-like sac becomes inflamed. Inflammation is often associated with redness and swelling especially in its acute stages. However, you may have bursitis without redness and swelling, so do not presume anything without a thorough investigation. If you have an infected bursa it will be more boldly swollen and red. Seek immediate intervention in this situation to avoid long-term consequences of ignoring an infected bursa.

  3. Tenderness to touch of the affected joint. Bursitis is associated with inflammation. Inflammation is always associated with pain.

    Many bursas are situated quite superficially in the body so tenderness and pain on palpation is often present. However, this “pain to touch” will depend on what aspect of your bursa is inflamed. If it is the inner or deeper aspect of the bursa you may not feel pain on palpation. Again seek a professional opinion.

  4. Limited movement of the affected joint. Bursitis often limits movement of the surrounding joint. This is due to the pain associated with bursitis as well as the swelling itself limiting the movement. If you have pain that is moderately severe the body will limit the range of movement of the painful structure. If you have swelling it may physically prevent your joint from moving when the swelling is within the joint space.

So what I would say is that if you get these sort of symptoms, listen to your body and respect your pain. After all, pain is one of the bodies’ most powerful protective mechanisms. So, when pain shouts out, listen!!!

READ MORE: Bursitis Treatment ->

While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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