Bursitis elbow treatment at the south Dublin Physiotherapy and Chiropractic Clinic Dalkey


Radio Interview

               Ross discussing Bursitis. Press Play Below:

What is a bursitis?

Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a small fluid- filled sac that is lined with synovial fluid. Bursae help to decrease friction between tendons & muscles at points where they glide over bones. These are generally at points of high stress where muscles insert into bones. Sample locations include the Achilles tendon, the patella tendon (patella ligament), & also the insertion points of the hip flexors & shoulder ‘cuff’ muscles.

The bursa becomes large & swollen which means that any movement of the affected joint can cause pain due to irritation of this structure. The pain can be severe & disabling as the cushioning effect of the bursa is diminished. If loading of a painful bursa continues then this can give rise to a rapid increase in pain severity & require a more prolonged rehabilitation. Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can give rise to bursitis which commonly affects the knees.

What Causes Bursitis?

Repetitive poor movement patterns:

If a joint is repetitively moved in an unhealthy or unbalanced manner then it can overload part of the muscle-tendon unit. This can create repetitive friction on the underlying bursa and produce progressive inflammation characteristic of the condition.


Bursitis may also develop following a significant blow to the shoulder as may occur with falls, contact sports or car accidents. In this case a sudden inflammatory response leads to acute pain and difficulty lifting the arm up overhead. Of course, with a trauma, other causes of shoulder pain need to be ruled out, such as fracture or dislocation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Body-wide (systemic) inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, infections, scleroderma or gout can also cause bursitis.

Common locations for bursitis:

  • Shoulder (subacromial bursa)
  • Elbow (olecranon bursa)
  • Hip (trochanteric bursa)
  • Knee (patella bursa)
  • Ankle (calcaneal bursa)

Symptoms of Bursitis

The symptoms of a bursitis can also mimic conditions such as frozen shoulder and when more severe bursitis can limit range of motion at the affected joint. Pain is commonly associated with heat, redness & swelling in the area surrounding the bursa, although this can be quite subtle & difficult to spot to the untrained eye. Due to the fact that bursitis is something that develops over time due to mechanical overload, it generally requires a thorough rehabilitation protocol to correct it.

Treatment of Bursitis

Initially, the goal is to bring the inflammation under control as soon as possible. This may require a short period of rest from aggravating activities. As with any inflammatory condition, heat should not be applied as this may act to increase inflammation. Anti-inflammatories may be trialed for a number of weeks but their effectiveness is limited due to the fact that the bursa has a poor blood supply. In chronic bursitis where repetitive overuse is the primary driver of the condition, then an in-depth analysis of posture and movement patterns at the shoulder is required. A physiotherapist specialises in identifying patterns of movement that may have given rise to bursal stress. It is important to address these in order to prevent recurrence of the condition.

If inflammation of the bursa occurs secondary to infection then your doctor may remove some of this fluid with a syringe (aspirate). Antibiotics will then be required to manage the infection.

Traumatic bursitis is likewise treated by aspiration. In athletes, it is important to protect the area upon return to sport by application of padding to the involved area.

To find out more regarding bursitis, contact Naas Physio Clinic on:
(045) 874 682

or email us at info@physioclinic.ie[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

For further information on conditions treated go to: