Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs located between two adjoining structures, usually muscles, tendons and bones. They reduce friction and assist movement of the tendon over the bony surface. Bursitis does not cause joint deformity, but can cause significant pain and restrict movement.

Bursae are located outside the joint itself. Since both tendons and bursae are located near joints, inflammation in these soft tissues may be mistaken for arthritis. However, arthritis involves inflammation within joints, whereas bursitis involves inflammation outside the joint.

Symptoms of bursitis

The symptoms of bursitis may include:

  • localised pain
  • swelling
  • a warm feeling in or around the affected area
  • increased pain at night
  • pain worsened by movement
  • stiffness
  • reddening of the skin.

The shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and heel are the most common sites of bursitis.

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