Using Physical Therapy to Manage Bursitis

Using Physical Therapy to Manage Bursitis

August 10, 2020

If you live in Pueblo and are tired of constantly having to rely on pain medication to mask persistent Bursitis pain in your knee, hip, elbow, heel, or shoulder, you may be wondering if there are any options for you that will effectively manage or treat your pain. The goal of physical therapists is to encourage healing in your body so that you no longer have to be chained to pain relief medicines that only put a bandaid over the true problem. Thankfully, physical therapy has been proven to be extraordinarily effective against bursitis and is an excellent option for those struggling long-term with this condition. 


What is Bursitis?

The joints in your body are crucial for providing the motion needed for everyday tasks. Each joint is made up of many different parts including tendons, muscles, and bones. Inside each joint is a small sac filled with fluid called the bursa. Bursae are responsible for providing essential protection in between each part of the joint. Tendons, bones, and muscles glide easily over the bursae, reducing friction and preventing injury.

When these sacs become exposed to high amounts of pressure or are irritated over time, they can become inflamed, irritated, and even scarred. This condition is called bursitis, and the result is pain that can become quite severe when engaging in everyday activities. Often these areas can be painful to the touch, stiff, and sore.

Location, Symptoms, and Diagnosis of Bursitis

Bursitis can be experienced anywhere in the body where there is a joint with bursae. Common locations are the hip, shoulder, knee, and elbow. However, this condition can also be found in the foot, such as the heel or big toe. Those with bursitis may experience pain and swelling in the area as well as redness and a feeling of stiffness in the joint. 

Diagnosis is usually made through a physical exam and the patient’s explanation of their pain and discomfort. However, some doctors will also include tests that rule out other conditions such as gout or bone spurs. These tests can include things like x-rays, blood tests, aspiration of bursa fluid, and, on rare occassions, an MRI.

Causes of Bursitis

Bursitis can be caused by many different things, but it is most often seen in patients who are engaged in repetitive motion. This can be something such as pitching a baseball, using a golf club, or running on uneven surfaces. Other patients may develop bursitis as a result of poor posture, leaning against hard surfaces on a daily basis, or exercising without warming up first.

Bursitis can also be caused by sudden injury. Sports injuries, a blow to the affected area, or car accidents can damage the bursa and cause pain, swelling, and irritation. Some patients may develop the condition because of an injury on another part of the body. Using a cane on one side, or limping can cause excessive pressure and strain on the bursae in different joints of the body.  An infection or arthritis in the area can also lead to bursitis. Identifying the cause of your bursitis can be extremely helpful for your road to recovery, so be sure to talk to your physical therapist about your habits and any recent injuries that you may have had.

How Can Physical Therapy Help Bursitis

While anti-inflammatory medications can be a good tool for temporary pain relief and inflammation control, these medicines should be viewed as an intermediate solution. It is important to prioritize healing and lifestyle change when necessary to allow the bulsa and the joint around it to fully recover from the trauma.

One of the first things to do to care for the affected area is to practice the PRICE technique. PRICE stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  When you first begin to experience pain in this area, whether as a result of repetitive motion or injury, you can begin this treatment on yourself to begin the healing process. If the pain persists, you will want to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to explore more in-depth methods of healing.

When it comes to bursitis recovery, there are several steps that your Pueblo physical therapist may guide you through. The goal of these steps is to stop the irritation, heal the bursa, and strengthen the joint to keep the injury from happening again. Here are a few of the steps that you and your physical therapist may go through on your way to recovery.

Lifestyle Modification

The first step is to investigate what has caused the irritation of the bursa in the first place. Once you have found a cause, it is imperative to temporarily stop doing the activity that is causing the irritation. It may even be a simple matter of modifying your motions or changing a few habits. This will help to avoid further irritation so that healing can take place.

Stretch and Strengthen Technique

In many cases of bursitis, the inflammation and irritation is exacerbated by weak and tight tendons in the joint area. An effective method of rehabilitation is the stretch and strengthen technique which focuses on strengthening the weak tendons and muscles while simultaneously stretching the tight ones. This is where much of the physical therapist’s work takes place.

Reintroduce Activity

After the recovery process has taken place, it is time to slowly reintroduce activity. Your physical therapist will help to create a program to ease you back into the activities that you love without risking a recurrence of your pain or discomfort. The goal is to set you up for a healthy lifestyle, and prevent the bursitis from returning.

Physical therapy is a great way to alleviate the pain of bursitis. Whether you have been injured or you are experiencing this condition as a result of repetitive motion, the techniques and strategies of an experienced physical therapist can take away your pain and improve your life. This care, along with the self-care that you do at home, can help you to finally live a pain free life.

At Synergy Physical Therapy & Wellness and Wellness, we are committed to the health and happiness of all of our patients regardless of their age. Our friendly Pueblo-based company wants each of our patients be pain free without resorting to surgery, injections, or medication.

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