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Ask the PT – Bursitis

Hello WSPT,

I have been diagnosed with bursitis and my physician recommended I visit with a physical therapist in order to help with the stiffness and pain in my joints. How can physical therapy assist me in treating this condition and what can I do to prevent it from getting worse?

Thank you,

Joe T

Hello Joe,

Bursitis occurs when the bursa, which are small, fluid-filled sacs located between muscles, joints, and tissue, become inflamed. Your physician may have explained to you that bursitis is an injury caused by repetitive motion or trauma. If you are employed at a job where you repeat the same motions over and over again, you are at higher risk for developing bursitis.

Bursitis most commonly flairs up in the elbows or the knees, but can also affect the hip, shoulders, buttocks, thighs, or ankles. The pain and swelling from bursitis can be debilitating and the risk for infection, especially in the elbow, can increase, and if the bursa become infected, symptoms and conditions may worsen and can lead to serious illness.

Surgery for bursitis is a last-resort option and physical therapy can help or even cure the condition if an infection is not present. Common treatment includes resting the affected joints, the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), and motion exercises prescribed by a physical therapist.

Our world-class physical therapists at WSPT will design you a personalized treatment program for both in office and at home in order to help you regain mobility and get you back to everyday activities. The condition can be healed in 4-8 weeks in which you will see both an increase in strength in the area and a significant decrease in swelling and stiffness in the areas where the bursa is located.

Physical therapy can also help in preventing recurrent bursitis. We will give you specific instructions so you do not overwork the joints as it is repetitive motion that causes the condition. He or she will also advise you on how to avoid or modify any activities, especially if the cause of the bursitis was caused by a work or sports related injury. Bursitis can be treated without surgery or medication and can be easily prevented through some modifications to your everyday activities.

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