Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Understanding Bursitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Is Bursitis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose bursitis based on your symptoms and findings on a physical exam. Some diagnostic tests may be performed to rule out other causes of your pain. These include the following:

  • An X-ray of the affected area to look for bony spurs (abnormal areas) or arthritis
  • Aspiration, in which fluid is taken from the swollen bursa and evaluated under a microscope, to rule out gout or infection
  • Blood tests to screen for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
  • Magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI), although this is rare

 

Understanding Bursitis

Find out more about bursitis:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

How Is Bursitis Treated?

Although bursitis generally disappears in a few days or weeks, the pain may be persistent. 

Initial treatment typically consists of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aleve or Advil, to reduce pain and inflammation. 

Ice may be applied to the affected area (although not directly on the skin), as recommended by your doctor.

A corticosteroid may be injected into and around the inflamed bursae (the fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints affected by bursitis). In severe cases, it may be necessary to use a needle to withdraw fluid from the inflamed and swollen bursae. This can help relieve the pressure. In persistent conditions, bursae can be surgically removed.

A physical therapy program that includes stretching and focused strengthening exercises may be helpful. A physical therapist may also apply heat and ultrasound to relax the joint.

Bursitis may recur, particularly if you engage regularly in strenuous exercise or physical labor. You should take measures to avoid further strain or injury. 

How Can I Prevent Bursitis?

Warming up before strenuous exercise and cooling down afterward is the most effective way to avoid bursitis and other strains affecting the bones, muscles, and ligaments. Avoid activities that aggravate the problem. Rest the affected area after activity. Cushion your joints to avoid prolonged pressure and trauma. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on February 27, 2015

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

bloodstream
Tips to help prevent clots.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
Live and thrive.
gloved hand holding syringe
10 preventable diseases.
psoriasis
How to identify that bite.
man eating meal
Folates, green tea and more.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Woman with stressed, fatigue
Get relief tips.
restroom sign
Food and drinks that make you go.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.