Medical Terminology Made Simple: Bursitis

Barry Lenson

Medical Terminology Made Simple: Bursitis

Medical Terminology CourseAs a service to people who are thinking of entering the medical and medical support professions, StraighterLine is continuing the series of short posts on medical terminology. Each post will define one medical term.

Today’s medical term is . . . Bursitis

If you have chronic pain in the area surrounding your shoulder, knee, elbow, achilles tendon, heel, or hip, you could have bursitis. The condition is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) that surrounds joints.  And boy does it hurt.

Sometimes bursitis occurs as the result of repeated impacts or stress. In August 2011, for example, the Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has been suffering from bursitis of the heel, which has kept him sidelined for several games. Chances are that David (or Big Papi, as he is known in Boston) got the condition because of repeated impacts to his heel area as he rounded the bases after one of his many home runs.

But other triggers can cause the condition too – a one-time impact or injury, an infection, gout, or arthritis. And bursitis is pesky. Sometimes it just kind of shows up.

Bursitis pain often goes away if the sufferer rests, waits it out, and tries not to overuse the affected joint. Some sufferers apply a heating pad or a warm wet wrap. If the condition is chronic or the pain is severe, it can be treated with steroid injections.

What should you do if you get bursitis? Most medical professionals say to start with oral pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen.  But if you have joint pain and you suspect that bursitis is the cause, consult your doctor.

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