Kellie K. Middleton, MD

Does Bursitis Resolve on Its Own?

Jan 16, 2024
Does Bursitis Resolve on Its Own?
When you have joint pain, it might not be arthritis. You might have bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursa tissue in your joint. Arthritis can’t be cured. But what about bursitis? Does it ever just go away by itself?

You wake up, and one or more of your joints is stiff. It may even hurt to move it. If you’ve already been diagnosed with arthritis, you may think it’s a flare of that disease. 

If you don’t have arthritis, you may wonder if you’ve now developed it. But sometimes joint pain isn’t due solely or even partly to arthritis. Sometimes, it’s caused by another condition called bursitis. Like arthritis, bursitis can affect any joint and cause:

Kellie K. Middleton, MD, an orthopedic expert in Lawrenceville, Georgia, helps you discover what’s causing your joint pain and lack of mobility. As a former athlete, she knows how important it is to get back to easy, pain-free movement as soon as possible.

Is your joint pain due to bursitis? If so, what can you do about it? Will it ever go away, or, like arthritis, is it here to stay?

All about your bursae 

Bursitis is an inflammation in a specialized tissue called the bursa, which are fluid-filled sacs near your joints. Bursae are made of connective tissue and are filled with synovial fluid — the same lubricant that your synovium produces to keep your joint bones gliding over one another.

The bursae are like little pillows in your joints. If you lean a joint against a hard surface, like your elbows on a table or your knee on the floor, your bursae help protect the joint. They also help the tissues and bones in your joints glide freely.

Why bursae get inflamed

Your bursae can get injured, just like any other tissue in your body. Overusing a joint with repetitive motions can irritate the bursae. They can get damaged during sports, a fall, or other accidents.

When you develop bursitis due to wear-and-tear or trauma, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness

In other words, the symptoms of bursitis are identical to those of arthritis. In fact, the two conditions often go hand-in-hand. Diagnosing your pain is an important step in management and healing.

The 100+ types of arthritis affect more than 58 million women, men, and children in the United States. In contrast, bursitis accounts for just 0.4% of primary care visits. However, if you already have arthritis, you have a higher-than-average risk of developing bursitis, too.

Bursitis can resolve

Unlike arthritis, which is a chronic condition, bursitis may go away on its own, particularly if the bursae are only irritated, not damaged. While you’re waiting for your bursae to heal, you can help your body along by:

  • Resting the painful joint
  • Taking nonsteroidal antiinflammatories for pain
  • Undergoing cold and heat therapy
  • Working with a physical therapist

You may benefit from orthopedic injections if these measures don’t improve your comfort and mobility. Dr. Middleton may recommend cortisone to subdue inflammation and control pain.

Does it feel like you have arthritis, even though (as far as you know) you don’t have arthritis? Or are your joints stiffer than usual? Find out why and get the help you need for bursitis by contacting our knowledgeable team by phone or the online form for bursitis injections today.