Bursitis: The Evolution of Treatment

Dr. Grace Walker, physical and occupational therapist and nutritionist, has an interesting history lesson for you regarding bursitis. Bursitis affects many men and women all over the world. In the past, bursitis used to be an easy way to write of pain that was difficult to diagnose. Ancient methods were utilized to treat symptoms. These techniques could be painful, and down-right scary!

What is bursitis?

Bursitis is the inflammation (-itis) of a bursa. The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid, located between tissues such as bone, muscle tendons and skin. The job of a bursa is to decrease rubbing, friction, and irritation. Bursitis often occurs in (but is not limited to) shoulders, elbows, hips or knees.

Symptoms can build gradually, or have sudden onset. Severe loss of motion and joint pain may be a sign to go take a visit to the doctor, and get a proper diagnosis. Chronic inflammation can lead to calcification and bone spurs, which can be extremely aggravating and may need surgery to be removed.

What treatments are available for bursitis?

In the past, people were using a treatment that dates back to ancient Greece for removing bursitis known as bloodletting. Just as it sounds, it involves draining blood from the area. It was believed that removing blood from different areas could cure diseases and relieve pain. The practice was recommended by physicians and carried out by barbers! This is why barbers have red-and-white poles; red is for blood, white is for bandages. Of course, this practice is no longer carried out in modern medicine (not is America, at least). If you do find someone who offers to perform bloodletting on you, there’s no evidence it will heal your bursitis; and remember, your insurance probably won’t cover it!

Since the development of evidence-based medicine has come into the picture, treatment for bursitis has progressed. Some options include oral and injectable steroids, and physical therapy. The steroids that are used can be helpful, but also might have their own set of complications. Orally, they can cause weight gain, and alter hormone balance. If injected, they can cause damage to soft tissue, which could cause a bursa to be weakened or rupture.

Physical therapy is frequently performed. Modalities, safe exercise, and hands on treatment from trained physical therapist can often be enough to reduce and break the cycle of inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of bursitis, once it is reduced, pain will be decreased and range of motion will increase. Beyond that, physical therapy does not have the complications that come with steroid treatment.

At Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center, our professional therapists are experienced in treating bursitis. They will not only help you understand you condition, they will teach you how to identify and interpret pain triggers and patterns.

Call Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center to schedule an appointment with an expert physical therapist.

(714) 997-5518

1111 W. Town and Country Rd., Ste. 1

Orange, CA 92868