9 Self-Care Tips for People With Bursitis

Bursitis Treatment at Home

Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, or small fluid-filled sac, in a joint. All our joints—hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, even heels—contain bursae, which help tendons glide over the bones of the joint. When a bursa becomes inflamed, the joint may swell and become red and warm to the touch. You’ll feel pain, which may be sharp, especially when you try to move the affected area.

Many cases of bursitis improve with home treatment. Learn more about self-care tips for bursitis, including natural bursitis remedies.

1. Rest your joint.

Stop using your affected joint. If you try to ‘push through’ the pain of bursitis, you’ll only cause additional inflammation. If you have bursitis of the shoulder or elbow, use your other arm instead of the affected arm, at least until the pain subsides. If you have bursitis of the hip, knee or heel, you may need to minimize your weight-bearing activities (standing, walking, running) for a while. Whenever possible, rest with your leg elevated.

2. Apply ice.

Ice can decrease inflammation and pain. Apply ice to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes a time, a few times per day. Ice is most effective when applied during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. So, try to ice the affected joint as soon as possible after noticing pain and inflammation. If you have chronic bursitis—that which persists over a period of weeks or months—ice isn’t as likely to be effective.

3. Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They decrease inflammation and relieve pain. Taking these medications as directed on the package every few hours will help you feel more comfortable and minimize the underlying inflammation. NSAIDs can cause an upset stomach and ulcers in some people. If you have kidney or liver disease, a history of heart attack or stroke, or a gastrointestinal disease, talk with your doctor before taking an NSAID.

4. Consider compression.

Occasionally, applying compression to the affected joint can minimize swelling and decrease pain. You can try wrapping the area with a compression bandage or slip on a compression sleeve. Be careful; compression should be firm but not tight. If you feel any numbness, tingling or increased pain, or notice swelling below the wrap or sleeve, remove it.

You only use compression the first day or so after an injury. If you still have pain and swelling after three days, it’s time to see a healthcare provider.

5. Get support.

You’re going to need some help while you’re resting the affected joint. Let friends, family members and coworkers help you with everyday tasks. You might also want to use a cane, brace or splints, depending on the location and severity of your bursitis. If you have bursitis in the hip, you might find it useful to use a cane in your opposite hand; doing so can take some stress off the affected hip. A splint or brace might feel good on an affected knee or elbow (and remind you to rest the area).

6. Try glucosamine or omega-3 fatty acids.

Glucosamine is a substance found in cartilage. Research has shown that over-the-counter glucosamine supplements may help inflammation in bursitis. Do not take glucosamine if you take a blood-thinning medication, as glucosamine can increase the risk of bleeding.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish and flaxseed; you can also find over-the-counter omega-3 supplements. Researchers are still studying omega-3 fatty acid effectiveness, but they seem to decrease the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body. If you take a blood thinner, do not take fish oil or omega-3 supplements without first talking to your doctor.

7. Ask your doctor about bromelain and herbal supplements.

Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapples and reduces inflammation. Do not take bromelain supplements without first talking to your healthcare provider. If taken with antibiotics—which are sometimes prescribed for bursitis caused by an infection—bromelain can increase the amount of antibiotic in the body to dangerous levels. It also increases the risk of bleeding. 

Turmeric, boswellia, and white willow are three herbs that may reduce inflammation. However, all three increase the risk of bleeding. Do not take any over-the-counter supplements without first clearing them with your doctor.

8. Be careful with massage therapy.

Massage can feel good, and myofascial release therapy (a type of massage) may decrease the pain of a sore joint. However, do not massage the affected area if your bursitis is caused by an infection; you may inadvertently promote the spread of the infectious agent throughout the body.

You might not know if an infection is the cause of your pain. When in doubt, skip massage. Instead, rest, ice and elevate the area; take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If those steps don’t lead to improvement in a few days, call your healthcare provider.

9. Seek medical attention if…

Most cases of bursitis can be managed at home. However, if you experience rapid worsening of pain, redness or swelling, or are suddenly unable to move your joint, seek immediate medical care. (You can call your regular healthcare provider or head to an urgent care clinic.)

You should also call a specialist if you still have significant pain after three weeks or so of rest and home treatment. At that point, medical treatment may be needed to relieve your symptoms. 

If you have tried all of these treatments and are still suffering from pain, then call one of our 3 office locations and we will be happy to schedule you an appointment with one of our specialist to evaluate your condition and determine what treatments might be right for you. 

When it comes to hip replacement surgery, not all surgeries are created equal

The options you need to know before deciding to have hip replacement surgery

Author: Dr. James Loging, MD, MBA, FAAOS

   You have always enjoyed an active lifestyle until that one day when you start to notice an unusual pain in your hip. You tried to manage the pain hoping it would get better, only to find that over time it has progressively gotten worse. As the pain worsens you find yourself avoiding activities you once enjoyed.  After realizing that the pain will not get better on its own, you decide to see your doctor to see what may be going on.  It’s then that you find out that the pain your experiencing is related to severe arthritis in your hip and that you need a hip replacement to resolve your pain.  This can be a scary and very stressful situation.  But it doesn’t have to be if you know that there are options available to help you recover faster and experience less pain after surgery.

   Most people don’t realize that there are multiple ways that the hip can be replaced by an orthopedic surgeon.  Unfortunately, not all orthopedic surgeons are trained on all the different options available and tend to only offer one approach to patients. They also usually don’t even discuss the approach they will perform with the patient.  The reason for this is because of the type of training the doctor received typically only involves one approach, which is why the orthopedic surgeon only performs that one option for patients.  However, not all the different approaches are created equal and certain ones have significant benefits over others.  The approach that has the most benefits is called the Anterior Approach.

   Anterior Hip Replacement surgery means that the surgeon replaces a patient’s hip by coming from the front (anterior) of the hip. The benefit of coming from the front is that the doctor doesn’t have to cut muscles to replace the hip which makes for a significantly faster recovery compared to all the other methods of replacing a hip. All other approaches, which include posterior, lateral, and anterolateral all must cut muscles and disrupt vital tissues to replace the hip. Other benefits of anterior approach and not cutting muscles include less pain, less blood loss, less risk for dislocation, and more equal restoration of leg lengths. But the biggest thing most patients care about is the faster recovery which allows you to get back to living life without the pain and not having a prolonged recovery process.  Anterior hip replacement is also so less invasive that lots of patients are candidates to have their surgery done outpatient and able to recover in the comfort of their own home with out the need for a costly hospital stay.

Some physicians may recommend a hip resurfacing surgery instead of a hip replacement. A hip resurfacing is essentially a hip replacement but instead of replacing the ball, a cap is placed over the patients existing ball and the hip socket is still replaced as in a hip replacement. Be cautious when considering this as hip resurfacings has lots of potential downfalls. First, for most surgeons to resurface a hip, a posterior approach is performed which cuts most all muscles away from the hip and leads to permanent damage to the muscle that can have detrimental consequences in the future. Second, hip resurfacings are all metal on metal components which have significant well known complications including implant failure, local hip tissue and muscle damage, and absorption of metal fragments that are generated from the metal components rubbing together into the blood stream and traveling throughout the body. This absorption of metal ions has been suggested to lead to numerus health problems including cancer. Hip resurfacings all have a very short and limited lifespan and will all eventually have to be revised to a full hip replacement. For these serious concerns mentioned, hip replacement performed by anterior approach is much preferred to hip resurfacing. Patients also experience a faster and easier recovery compared to hip resurfacing.

   When it comes to anterior hip replacement, experience also matters. If your surgeon hasn’t been performing anterior hip replacement for very long or doesn’t perform it regularly, then you should consider looking for a surgeon who has more experience in the surgery. Surgeons with limited experience have a much higher complication rate and can lead to decreased success of the surgery. Thus, experience matters. Palmetto Bone and Joint has the most experienced surgeon in anterior hip replacement and has been performing this procedure longer and performed more anterior hip replacements than any surgeon in South Carolina.

So, if your contemplating hip replacement surgery, know that you have options and don’t settle for an approach that will affect your recovery and outcome. Call Palmetto Bone and Joint to discuss these options and what’s best for you.