Wherever bones, tendons or ligaments come into contact with each other there is a fluid filled sack present which sits between them called a bursa.

A bursa prevents these structures from rubbing on each other. Bursitis is a condition where there is inflammation of this bursa. It is often related to overuse of a particular joint, or where there is excess tension on a specific area over a long period of time.

Bursitis can also be caused by trauma of a specific area, such as a fall or car accident, which can instantly cause inflammation of that area.

The most common areas within the body that can be affected by bursitis are:

  • Shoulder joint – when there is bursitis in this area, it can often cause impingement of the surrounding muscles resulting in a painful shoulder with reduced range of motion.
  • Hip joint – There are two common areas of bursitis in the hip: bursitis on the side of the hip called Trochanteric Bursitis as well as a common bursitis in the gluteal area called Gluteus Medius Bursitis.
  • Knees – (Clergyman’s knee) is the inflammation of the Infrapatella Bursitis,  which is located just below the kneecap
  • Bursitis is also common in the elbows, wrists and ankles.

The symptoms associated with bursitis can include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Restricted range of motion of a joint
  • Warm or red skin overlying the affected area.

If you see an Osteopath for suspected bursitis they will make a diagnosis through asking a full medical history, as well as conducting a full orthopaedic and musculo-skeletal examination.  They will then look structurally at the related area to see if there are any muscles, ligaments, tendons or joints that are aggravating the bursa. By relieving the pressure of these structures on the bursa using hands-on manual techniques, the bursa is often able to start the healing process and the inflammation can reduce. At Southside Clinic in Unley, Adelaide, we have many registered Osteopaths, who if they note any related muscles imbalance or weakness, will give you exercises to address this issue also. Your Osteopath may also refer you for an x-ray or refer you back to your GP for an ultra-sound of the affected area to confirm the diagnosis.

Your Osteopath may also advise you to rest the affected joint, use hot and cold compress to relieve the pain or see your Pharmacist for anti-inflammatory medication.

If you have any questions about bursitis, or if you would like to speak to an Osteopath for advice, please call Southside Clinic in Unley, Adelaide on 1300 10 11 22. 


Article written by:

Dr Andrea Robertson (Osteopath)

B.Sci.(Clin.Sci.),M.H.Sci.(Osteo.),Member OA