Tendinitis and bursitis are common diseases that cause inflammation or degeneration of the soft tissue around muscles and bones. Tendinitis affects tendons, cord-like structures located where a muscle narrows down to attach to a bone. Bursitis is swelling in the bursa, a small, fluid-filled sac that cushions the bones and other body parts. Tendinitis and bursitis often involve the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle.
These two conditions are related to each
other so closely that sometimes people use the two terms interchangeably. Because
tendons and bursa are often closely situated, any inflammation that occurs in
one may affect the other. So, a diagnosis of “rotator cuff
tendonitis” and “shoulder bursitis” may sometimes be used to
describe the same event.
Tendinitis and bursitis are independent yet
co-existing conditions. Sometimes, they are caused by the same thing, but not
always so. Tendinitis or bursitis can occur from an acute injury, but they are mainly
related to repetitive use.
Sometimes an infection in the bursa or tendon will cause the area to be inflamed. Some medical conditions can also trigger tendonitis or bursitis, like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disease and diabetes. Older persons are more likely to get tendinitis and bursitis. Rarely, some drugs can cause tendinitis and tendon rupture.
Although tendinitis and bursitis affect different
areas of the body, their signs and symptoms can be similar because the affected
parts are very close to each other. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness in the affected joints that gets worse when
- Inflammation and swelling around joint areas
- Redness and heat
- Tenderness to touch
- Loss of motion of shoulder or frozen shoulder
- A lump in the tendon in some cases
Proper diagnosis starts with an experienced
physician. First, the doctor may ask about your medical history and symptoms, followed
by physical examination. Tenderness along the tendon or its sheath (outer
covering), or at one specific point in the tendon, suggests tendinitis. Other
methods that can help with diagnosis include:
- Imaging tests like X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or
- Blood tests to check for infection and rule out other conditions, such
as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
- Drawing tissue from a swollen bursa to check for infection or rule out
diseases like gout
Treatment options for tendinitis and bursitis
depend on the cause of the conditions. If your condition is caused by injury or overuse, options can consist
You should rest the injured limb or joint, at least for a short time. If the problem is in a hip, leg or foot, you may need to stop stressful weight-bearing activities for a short time. This can lessen the inflammation.
- Corticosteroid injections
This option may provide short-term benefit
in certain forms of tendinitis and may be considered if you cannot endure
- Ice to help reduce inflammation and pain
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
If tendinitis or bursitis is caused by infection, you will need a proper
antibiotic. Daily drainage of fluid with a needle may also helpful in managing
Sometimes, doctors will suggest you receive physical therapy to maintain strength and function. If, after a few months of treatment, tendinitis still limits an essential activity, you may need a surgical treatment.
Keywords: tendinitis; bursitis.