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Bursitis - Topic Overview

How is it treated? continued...

If you have severe bursitis, your doctor may use a needle to remove extra fluid from the bursa. You might wear a pressure bandage on the area. Your doctor may also give you a shot of medicine to reduce swelling. Some people need surgery to drain or remove the bursa.

Sometimes the fluid in the bursa can get infected. If this happens, you may need antibiotics.

Bursitis is likely to improve in a few days or weeks if you rest and treat the affected area. But it may return if you don't stretch and strengthen the muscles around the joint and change the way you do some activities.

How can you prevent bursitis?

You may be able to prevent bursitis from happening or coming back.

  • Continue your home treatment with rest, ice, pain relievers, and gentle exercises.
  • When you are ready to try the activity that caused the pain, start slowly and do it for short periods or at a slower speed. Warm up before and stretch after the activity. Increase your activity slowly, and stop if it hurts. Use ice afterward to prevent pain and swelling.
  • Change the way you do activities with repeated movements that may strain your muscles or joints. For example:
    • If using a certain tool has caused bursitis, start switching hands or change the grip size of your tool.
    • If sitting for long periods has caused bursitis, get up and walk around every hour.
    • If a certain sport is causing bursitis, consider taking lessons to learn proper techniques. Have an expert check your equipment to make sure it's well suited to your size, strength, and ability.
    • If certain activities at work may be causing bursitis, talk to your human resources department about other ways of doing your job, equipment changes, or other job assignments.
  • Protect your joints from pressure. Cushion knees or elbows on hard surfaces, and wear shoes that fit you well and have good support.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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