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The problem

  • Bursae are fluid-filled sacs located between bones and tendons. They function to reduce friction and allow the tendons to glide more freely over the bone
  • When bursae become inflamed, movement of the tendon over the affected bursa becomes painful

Hints for self-management

  • Rest the affected joint
  • Avoid aggravating movements and activities
  • Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation

Interesting facts

  • There are approximately 160 bursae in the human body
  • Larger bursae are located near major joints, such as the shoulders elbows hips and knees. Example: Subacromial Bursitis

Management options

  • A corticosteroid may be injected into the affected bursa. In Australia, this is typically done under ultrasound guidance by a radiologist after being prescribed by your GP, Orthopaedic Surgeon or Sports Physician. This generally brings rapid relief.
  • Physiotherapy can help strengthen the muscles around the joint and correct any biomechanical faults to help reduce the risk of recurrence

What you can expect/look out for

  • An achy or stiff sensation in the affected joint
  • Increased pain with movement
  • Swelling and/or redness over the affected area

More information

  • Bursitis is most likely to occur in joints that perform repetitive motions, such as the shoulders, elbows, or hips. It may also develop in the knees, heels, or at the base of the big toes.
  • Bursitis is also likely to develop following an injury, which may be traumatic or a more chronic overuse/repetitive stress type injury due to faulty body mechanics. Bursitis is also more likely to occur during middle age and in individuals with rheumatic conditions.
  • It is not uncommon to experience recurrent flare ups



At Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy our highly qualified physiotherapists specialise in the assessment, treatment and prevention of neuromusculoskeletal injuries.

Contact us today – 9252 5770


This handout was prepared by Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy and is intended as a general information service. Please note that the information provided is not intended as a substitute for advice from a registered physician or healthcare professional. If symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.

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