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What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis involves irritation and swelling of the bursa – one of several small, fluid-filled sacs throughout your body. These jelly-like sacs help to cushion your bones, joints and moving parts, such as shoulders and knees.

Causes of bursitis include accidental injury or over-use (repetitive stress) and pressure on a joint. This may be due to work, play or athletic activities. You can trigger bursa inflammation through certain extended postures. For example, it can happen after standing or kneeling on a hard surface or leaning on your elbows against a brick wall. 

Other causes and risk factors include:

  • Arthritis – Makes the bursa more likely to become inflamed
  • Bone spurs or calcium deposits – Conditions that develop within tendons and muscles
  • Hip injury – A fall or trauma to your hip, or an injury from lying on one side of your body for a long time
  • Spine disease – Conditions such as scoliosis (curved backbone) or arthritis of the lumbar (lower) spine
  • Prior surgery – Joint implants or surgery around certain areas
  • Uneven leg length – One leg shorter than the other, creating hip irritation when you walk


Symptoms of bursitis include pain and swelling. This can occur in your shoulder, elbow, hip, knee or heel. 

Hip bursitis may include sharp, intense pain in your outer hip and thigh, or on the inside of your hip. It may get worse when you’re lying on your hip or when you stand after sitting for a while. Squatting, climbing stairs or walking may cause pain.

Treatment Options

Your doctor will use a physical exam and imaging tests such as X-rays and MRIs to diagnose bursitis. He or she may take a fluid sample to check for infection. 

Bursitis treatment may include medication for pain and swelling or infection. Your doctor will advise you to rest the affected joint or injured area. Ice packs and other treatments can ease discomfort. 

If pain continues, your doctor may inject a drug into the area around the swollen bursa. In some instances, your condition may require surgery to repair damage and ease pressure.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of bursitis, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat bursitis.