Bursitis and Tendonitis


Tendonitis and bursitis are common conditions that cause swelling around muscles and bones. They occur most often in the shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist, hip, and ankle. But even though they have similar symptoms, they may need to be treated differently.

So if you have joint pain, it may be time to see a Mercy orthopedic specialist. Our doctors have the experience and medical technology needed to identify and manage tendonitis and bursitis, or other conditions that might be causing your joints to hurt.

Besides relieving your pain, we’ll help you understand what’s causing it. We’ll also create a long-term treatment plan to prevent your symptoms from returning.

Understanding Tendonitis

Your tendons are bands of tissue that connect your muscles and bones. When you move your muscles, the tendons ensure your bones move, too. If a tendon becomes inflamed, you’ll feel pain where it attaches to the bone, but sometimes pain can be referred elsewhere as well. This is called tendonitis. It can be caused by either a sudden injury or repetitive motion.

Athletes - professional and amateur - often get tendonitis. Tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee are all forms of tendonitis. And tradesmen, such as painters, tile setters and carpenters, whose jobs require repetitive motion, also can suffer from tendonitis.

Understanding Bursitis

A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that cushions the moving parts around your joints, such as bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Bursitis is the medical term for an inflamed bursa, which can cause pain, redness and swelling. It usually occurs in the shoulder, elbow or hip, but it can also affect your knees and heels. While tendonitis causes pain during movement, bursitis can be painful even during rest.

Bursitis is typically caused by repetitive joint movement. It may also be caused by an infection, sudden injury or inflammatory medical condition like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Tendonitis and Bursitis Care at Mercy

Mercy’s orthopedic physicians will give you the personalized treatment you need. Treatment for tendonitis and bursitis may include:

  • Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE)
  • Medicine to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Steroid shots (cortisone injections) to reduce inflammation. Shots may provide pain relief for several months or years.
  • Coordinated treatment for underlying medical conditions that may aggravate bursitis
  • Orthopedic rehabilitation to strengthen your muscles and improve range of motion. Our physical therapists can also help you fix certain body mechanics, such as poor posture or improper sports techniques.
  • Canes or other walking aids to help you take weight off a painful joint

Although rare, if left untreated, tendonitis can lead to a tendon rupture – meaning the tendon tears away from the bone. This may require surgery to repair.

If tendonitis or bursitis pain is causing you to miss work or skip your favorite hobbies, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. We’ll figure out what’s causing your symptoms, so you can get rid of your pain and avoid future flare-ups.

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