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Bursitis: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Burstitis is also known as inflammation, redness or rubor in medical terms.

How is the treatment done?

Bursitis is a painful condition caused due to the inflammation or irritation of the bursa. The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid and is located between tissues such as bone, muscle, tendons, and skin. There are several concurrent causes of bursitis. Trauma, auto-immune disorders, infection and medical related iatrogenic factors can all cause bursitis. Bursitis is most commonly caused by excessive pressure and repetitive movement. Shoulders, elbows and knees are the most commonly affected parts of the body. There are other inflammatory conditions which can cause inflammation of the bursa. These are rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus and gout. Immune deficiencies, including HIV and diabetes, can also cause bursitis. Infrequently, scoliosis can also be held as the cause of bursitis of the shoulders. Traumatic injury is another cause of bursitis. Various other chronic systemic diseases can also cause bursitis.

The most common symptom of bursitis is pain. The pain becomes severe when there is calcium deposits in the bursa. Severe loss of motion in the shoulder which is called the "adhesive capsulitis" or frozen shoulder is also as a result from the immobility and pain associated with shoulder bursitis. The regions affected become itchy and stiff, hurts on moving and pressing and becomes swollen and red.

Treatment of bursitis depends on whether the condition is infected or non-infected. Bursitis which is not infected can be treated with ample rest, ice, elevation, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication etc. Infected or worse situations of bursitis can be treated with prescription drugs. Corticosteroids help to decrease the inflammation and pain. Antibiotic therapy and surgical therapy may also be done to help treat bursitis. Also, injections can be used to relieve the pain but is mostly avoided because of the side effects.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Doctors can diagnose bursitis with the signs and symptoms. They can recommend physical tests to determine whether the condition is infected or not. Tests for bursitis may include image tests and lab tests. Doctors might recommend blood tests or an analysis of fluid from the inflamed bursa in order to diagnose the exact cause of the joint inflammation and pain. X-Rays, MRIs and ultrasound may help in the diagnosis of bursitis.

Treatment of bursitis varies depending on the location of the inflammation like hips, shoulders, elbow etc and the type of bursitis. Mild bursitis which are not infected can be cured with enough rest, ice compaction, elevation of the affected region and pain relievers can help relieve discomfort. Apart from these conservative methods, other methods of treatment may be applied to cure bursitis. Over the counter medicines like corticosteroid may be used to lower the pain and cure the inflammation. Sometimes corticosteroid drugs drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) may also be injected into the bursa to provide relief. This is a quick method for treating bursitis but may affect the patient adversely and hence is avoided in most cases if not necessary. Physical therapy and exercises will help to strengthen the muscles and prevent recurrence of the inflammation. Also, people should use assistive means and devices to keep the affected area free from further pressure and movement. Use of walking cane or other devices can prevent additional pressure on the affected regions and facilitate healing faster. Surgery is a rarely used method in the treatment of bursitis.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People should consult a doctor when they face pain and stiffness in their joints and other parts of the body. When people find signs and symptoms of bursitis like swelling, redness and warmth in regions adjoining their joints, general illness, disabling joint pain, inability to move the affected area, and fever which is over 102 F, they should immediately consult the doctor.

Are there any side effects?

People may find inflammation of the joints and associated pain due to many other reasons apart from bursitis. Inflammation of the skin and pain may be caused due to injury, cuts, overuse etc. In those cases, providing rest will cause the pain to go away in hardly two days. People do not need to consult medical treatment or care in those cases. Only if the pain persists and affects daily life activities and chores, people should consult a doctor for medical assistance.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The risk of complication from the treatment methods of bursitis is comparatively low. But corticosteroid injection method of treatment may cause certain side effects in people. These side effects are very rare and mild, and resolve within a few days only. Some of the side effects of the injection method are bruising, swelling or inflammation at the injection site. People may face frequent hiccups, increased appetite and heart beat rate, insomnia, headache, abdominal cramping or bloating. They may also show signs of extreme water retention in the body along with flushed face and slight fever. In patients with diabetes, injection of corticosteroid can cause an increase in the blood sugar levels (BSL) for a few days. For these adverse effects of injection treatment, doctors tend to avoid this method.

How long does it take to recover?

After treatment, people should be careful not to exert too much pressure or overuse the affected parts. Medications and other doctor advices including exercises and physical therapies must be taken or done as directed. People with diabetes should also check their blood sugar level every month as sugar level can rise due to these medications. Also, they should consult the doctor if there be signs of recurrence of the condition or the condition does not improve.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Time taken for recovery from the treatment of bursitis will vary depending on the severity of the condition, the location of injury and the type of treatment provided. Normally, people take two to three weeks to recover from the condition after proper treatment. Whether knee bursitis or shoulder inflammation, people with mild symptoms do not take more than five weeks to recover. However, for severe and extreme cases of this condition, where surgical treatments are involved, people may take six to eight weeks to recover. Sometimes, they take three months to recover completely and perform the daily chores without any problems or issues.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Similar to duration of recovery, cost of the treatment also varies. It depends on the severity, location of the inflammation and pain and also on the type of treatment taken. Injection method and surgical operations to remove the cause of inflammation require greater costs than other treatment methods like OTC medications. Corticosteroid injection and surgeries may cost between Rs. 70000 to Rs 140000/-. Medications and physio-therapies require less cost which can range between Rs 500- Rs 5000/- while mild bursitis which cures on its own with rest and ice compression do not require any additional costs.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

In most cases, provided the affected and inflamed area or body part is given rest, the treatment is permanent. However, with excessive pressure or overuse of the once-already-affected part, bursitis inflammation and pain may recur back with greater severity. Thus, in order for the treatment to be permanent, people should be careful and precautious.

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