Rehabilitation for Bursitis

Bursitis is the painful inflammation of a bursa, a sac between tissues that is filled with lubricating fluid. In many cases, the condition can be treated at home by resting, applying ice, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In more severe cases, rehabilitation is necessary. Generally speaking, bursitis pain that persists for a week or more should be examined by a physician.

Bursae are located in many joints throughout the body. They act as cushions between bones, muscles, tendons and skin. Bursitis most often develops in the knee, shoulder, elbow, hip or Achilles tendon, but may occur in almost any joint. It typically occurs because of repetitive stress or traumatic injury, but may also be the result of a disease process. Bursitis is more common as individuals age.

Rehabilitation for bursitis is designed not only to alleviate pain but to increase range of motion, since the inflammation can result in serious immobility, as in the case of "frozen shoulder," medically known as adhesive capsulitis. Methods of rehabilitation for bursitis include:

  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Aspiration of excess fluid
  • Physical therapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Surgery

Physical therapy exercises for bursitis vary depending on the location of the affected area. Stretches, often using large, flat rubber bands made for the purpose, are commonly utilized during treatment. In addition to particular exercises to improve strength and flexibility and relieve pain, trained rehabilitation therapists guide patients to improve their posture and modify their movements to prevent future stress or injury. Surgery is not a common remedy for bursitis, but in extreme cases of serious and chronic pain, the affected bursa may be surgically removed.

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