What is Bursitis?
Bursitis is a fairly common and painful condition which can easily be confused with arthritis or gout. The condition affects the bursae which are small fluid filled sacs responsible for cushioning your muscles, bones and tendons near the joints. Bursitis is the condition that occurs when your bursae get inflamed.
Bursitis is most commonly felt in parts of the body that perform regular repetitive motions. It is most commonly experienced in the shoulders, elbows and the hips but it can also occur in the knee, the heel or at the base of the big toe.
Bursitis pain usually disappears after a few weeks or months with adequate rest and proper treatment. However, recurrent bouts of inflammation are very common. For those of you who suffer from bursitis on a regular basis looking to explore some natural remedies, we have some good news. As well as rest, there are a number of effective natural treatments that can speed up the healing process, help manage pain and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Symptoms of bursitis resemble those of arthritis and the conditions are often confused. Bursitis is defined as the breakdown of soft tissue surrounding the bones and muscles. This is similar to the definition of arthritis but the causes are different.
Bursitis and other similar conditions such as tendonitis are typically the result of repetitive overuse or minor injuries. Arthritis on the other hand is a degenerative joint disorder often caused by autoimmune disorders.
If you have bursitis, you may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Joint pain with tenderness in your shoulders, knees, hips, elbows or wrist.
- Problems sleeping owing to pain and discomfort.
- Pain and discomfort in the bones and muscles.
- Pain when pressure is put on the joints.
- Feeling very stiff and achy.
- Swelling and redness in the affected part of your body.
- Having trouble with everyday activities such as walking, exercising, getting dressed and carrying things.
In most cases, the symptoms of bursitis do not develop into anything more serious but it is possible for the condition to progress leading to more severe symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Severe pain for two or more weeks.
- Joint pain so severe that movement is impossible or very difficult.
- Very bad swelling, redness, bruising, heat or a rash.
- Sharp or shooting pain.
- Fatigue and lack of appetite.
Causes of Bursitis
The most common cause of bursitis is repetitive motions and repetitive positions which irritate your bursae. There are many possibilities including:
- Extensive kneeling on the floor to complete tasks like gardening, scrubbing the floor or laying a carpet.
- Leaning on the elbows for very long periods.
- Throwing or lifting something above the head such as baseball pitching or serving in tennis.
- Sitting for extended periods of time especially on a hard surface
- Other causes of bursitis are trauma or injury, rheumatoid arthritis, infection or gout.
Home Remedies for Bursitis
Bursitis is often treated with anti-inflammatory medications but for those of you who would prefer to avoid taking strong pharmaceutical drugs, there are plenty of effective home remedies to try. When combined with a good period of rest, some of the following natural remedies may be all you need to ease your symptoms and prevent a recurrence.
Making sure that you rest the affected part of your body can help relieve inflammation and give you time to heal. Stop doing the activities you feel are responsible for the condition for at least a few weeks. You do not have to become completely inactive. Gentle stretching exercises are good for you and low key activities like walking can help you to stay active and fit.
Gentle movements can help to keep the joints more flexible and limber and can help the healing process. It is best to rest your affected limbs rest and allow the pain to subside somewhat before doing any sort of activity including stretching exercise.
Gently stretching the affected joints can expedite the healing process and help ease inflammation. When combined with another form of treatment such as a cold compress or massage therapy, it is even more effective.
Once your pain has gone, gentle exercise can prevent the condition from becoming worse and recurring in future. Always take care to warm up properly and stretch your muscles and joints before exercising.
3) Cold Compress
It is important to reduce the swelling that comes along with bursitis in order to aid mobility and reduce pain. There are a few great ways to do this naturally. One such method is to use ice. Ice is especially helpful where the bursitis has developed recently and was caused by injury or strain. The initial 24 hour period following injury is an extremely critical period in which ice can prove very helpful.
- Wrap an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables or fruit in a cloth or thin towel.
- Apply the ice pack against the affected part of your body for around 20 minutes.
- Repeat every four or five hours throughout the day.
- Repeat the ice treatment for several days and you should experience some great results.
4) Warm Compress
While ice treatment is effective immediately following a flare-up or injury, it is less useful in the long term. After the first 48 hours or so or in the case of chronic bursitis, a warm compress can be very beneficial. A warm compress an help improve circulation and blood flow, fight inflammation and relieve pain and stiffness.
- Put a thin towel in a bowl of warm water to dampen it then wring out any excess liquid.
- Apply the compress to the affected part of your body for around 20 minutes.
- Repeat every 4 or 5 hours throughout the day.
Alternatively, you can apply a heating pad or a hot water bottle as a form of compress.
5) Castor Oil
Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid which has excellent anti-inflammatory effects making it a great choice for bursitis. It can help ease swelling, reduce pain and improve mobility in the joints.
- Soak a piece of cloth in your castor oil.
- Place the cloth on your affected joints then cover with plastic to hold it in place.
- Next apply a heating pad and cover it up with a towel.
- Hold it all in place for at least 30 minutes before removing it.
- Rinse of the oil with water.
- Repeat the treatment every day for at least a week.
Ginger has outstanding analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with bursitis. It can also improve circulation and promote fast healing.
- Grate up some fresh ginger and wrap in in some cheesecloth then tie the cloth.
- Place the cheesecloth in some hot water for about 30 seconds then allow it to cool down.
- Apply the cloth onto your affected joints and hold it in place for around 20 minutes.
- Repeat the treatment several times each day.
7) Essential Oils
A soothing massage can do wonders for the pain and inflammation in your joints. This is even more true when you add an essential oil to the massage mix. Many essential oils have excellent natural properties that can relieve inflammation and ease pain. Some of the best essential oils to treat bursitis include ginger, peppermint, lavender and wintergreen essential oil but there are plenty more to choose from.
- Add a few drops of essential oil to your chosen carrier oil. Jojoba, coconut and almond are popular choices.
- Massage the mixture into the affected part of your body twice a day.
Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin which has outstanding anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin supplements and turmeric itself are considered an excellent natural remedy for many conditions causing inflammation and pain.
- Add a teaspoon or so of turmeric powder to a glass of fresh milk and add some good quality honey to taste.
- Drink up the milk twice a day.
- Alternatively, you can take curcumin supplements but take a look at our review of the best supplements here to help you make an informed choice.