Bursitis or Tendinitis

Joint diagram

Bursitis or tendinitis, which is it? Don’t they kinda mean the same thing?  Not too long ago, my PT said I had some kind of “itis”? My immediate thought was – “What is that? and how do I get rid of it?”  Merriam-Webster defines: tendon, bursa, and the suffix “itis” as follows:

A Tendon is a tough cord or band of dense white fibrous connective tissue that unites a muscle with another muscle or bone.  The tendon transmits the force, which the muscle exerts, to another muscle or bone.

A Bursa is a small serous (watery serum) sac located around a tendon and/or bone and gives lubrication to a joint.

Itis” – simply means inflammation.

So if the diagnosis is bursitis then the watery sac around the tendon and/or bone has irritation, inflammation, or infection.  If the diagnosis is tendinitis then the white fibrous tissue that connects muscle to muscle or muscle to bone has irritation or inflammation.

What do the bursa and tendons do?

The job of the bursa is to lubricate a joint and decrease friction between bones, muscles, skin, and tendons.  When everything is gliding along smoothly, the body is happy. When the bursa sac has inflammation, irritation, or infection, rubbing occurs, and the tissues surrounding the bursa become angry and swell up.

What is the cause of the “itis”?

Bursitis is associated with repetitive motions, minor impacts on the area, infection, or conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sports, cleaning, and yard work can be culprits of bursitis as well as not correctly warming up before exercising.  Bursitis occurs in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, heel, and big toe — all joints and locations with bony protrusions. Remember, the bursa’s job is to lubricate the joint.

The job of a tendon is to connect muscle to bone and muscle to muscle.  (don’t confuse a tendon with a ligament as a ligament connects bone to bone).  A tendon delivers a pulling motion, has very little capability of stretching, and can withstand a great amount of tension. A tendon’s design is to  transmit force between bones and muscles. When a tendon is injured or inflamed it is considered strained – (ligaments are sprained as in “a sprained ankle” – ie. bone connected to bone).  Like the bursa, repetitive motion, incorrect stretching, and sports, can be a cause of injury.  Unlike the bursa, infection is not a cause of tendinitis. Tendinitis often occurs in the thumb, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, and Achilles tendon.

What are the symptoms of bursitis or tendinitis?

The most common symptom of bursitis is simply pain.  It is either gradual, or sharp and severe. In tendinitis the pain may be a dull ache, tenderness, and/or mild swelling.

The treatment of bursitis or tendinitis:

Bursitis and tendinitis are both conditions that Move Better PT’s treat.  Our therapists are the musculoskeletal experts that not only have been academically trained, but they also have practical knowledge on how each part of the body works with one another.  This means that each of Move Better’s clients are given a program designed specifically for them to strengthen the surrounding muscles of the injured site which aides in the healing of bursitis and tendinitis.  

Who can help with these conditions?

Our Move Better PT’s progress a patient from activity modification and modalities, including moist heat, ultrasound, and cryotherapy with compression, into progressive isometric tendon loading.  This isometric tendon loading further progresses into eccentric tendon loading specific to the patient’s activity goals. This target guided strengthening in turn helps to alleviate the stress on tendons, preventing further symptom recurrences.

If you feel that you are in need of an exercise program to help alleviate bursitis or tendinitis Move Better can help.  Move Better’s priority is to get clients back to their regular activities better, faster, and safer. Come experience Move Better for yourself https://www.movebettertherapy.com/contact-us/