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What is Bursitis? | Find Your Stride | Edinburgh Podiatrist

Bursitis is a common condition that affects many people, causing pain and discomfort in various parts of the body. It occurs when the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate the joints, become inflamed. This inflammation can occur for a number of reasons, including overuse, injury, infection, or underlying health conditions.


Painful forefoot
Forefoot pain caused by intermetatarsal (in-between the metatarsals) bursitis is a common problem seen by podiatrists

The most common symptom of bursitis is pain and tenderness in the affected area. The pain may worsen with movement or pressure, making everyday activities difficult and uncomfortable. Swelling, redness, and warmth may also be present in the affected area. In some cases, bursitis can also cause limited range of motion in the joint.


Bursitis can occur in any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. In the foot, bursitis can occur in the heel, where the retrocalcaneal bursa is located, in the big toe joint where the first metatarsophalangeal bursa is located or between metatarsals. Bursitis can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, overuse of the foot, or underlying health conditions such as arthritis.


Diagnosing bursitis typically involves a physical examination and a review of the patient's medical history. Imaging tests, such as x-rays or MRI scans, may also be used to rule out other conditions or to determine the extent of the inflammation. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can begin.


Treatment for bursitis may involve a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE therapy) to relieve pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be prescribed to help manage pain and reduce swelling. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be necessary to reduce inflammation in the bursa. In addition to conservative treatments, physical therapy may be recommended to help improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the affected joint. Foot orthoses may also be prescribed to help support the foot and reduce pressure on the affected area. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed bursa and relieve pressure on the joint.


Preventing bursitis involves taking steps to reduce the risk of inflammation in the bursae. This includes wearing proper footwear, temporarily changing activities that put excessive pressure on the joint, and maintaining a healthy weight. Warming up before physical activity and stretching afterwards can also help to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.


If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or limited range of motion in a joint, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment of bursitis can help prevent long-term complications and improve the overall outcome. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, most cases of bursitis can be successfully managed, allowing patients to return to their normal activities with minimal discomfort.


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