Bursitis and Tendinitis Overview

Both bursitis and tendinits cause pain that usually is not long-lasting if treated early. Areas of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle are most often affected.

Bursitis and tendinitis are common inflammatory conditions that occur when the soft tissue around muscles and bones in the body become inflamed or break down. Both conditions can come on suddently, causing significant pain and discomfort, especially when moving the affected area. 

What is Tendinitis?

Tendons are sometimes described as cord-like structures that connect bone to muscle. They are flexible and fibrous. Tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons, often results from overuse of the tendon.

Tendons are found throughout the body, including hands, shoulders, elbows, wrists, feet, hips, knees and ankles. As we age, tendons can become less flexible and more prone to injury.

Common types of tendinitis include:

  • Tennis elbow (an injury to the outer elbow tendon) or golfer’s elbow (injury to the inner elbow tendon). In both of these conditions, pain occurs near the elbow, and may radiate into the upper arm or down to the forearm.
  • Biceps tendinitis or pitcher’s shoulder (causing pain in the front or side of the shoulder, possibly traveling down to the elbow and forearm). The pain may also occur when the arm is raised overhead.
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis (causing pain at the tip of the shoulder and the upper, outer arm). The pain can become worse when you reach, push, pull, lift, raise your arm above shoulder level, or lie on the affected side.
  • Knee tendinitis (inflammation of a knee tendon, sometimes caused by dancing, cycling or running, or trying to break a fall). If you have knee tendinitis, you may feel pain during running, hurried walking, or jumping. The condition can increase the risk for ruptures or large tears to the tendon.
  • Jumper’s knee is also called patellar tendinitis or patellar tendinopathy. The patellar tendon joins the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). This knee tendon injury is most often caused by sports that require excessive jumping, such as basketball and can become serious if left untreated.
  • Achilles tendinitis (injury to the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the back of the heel). Achilles tendinitis is often caused by overuse. It can also be caused by tight or weak calf muscles, or by any condition that causes the tendon to become less flexible and more rigid, such as reactive arthritis or normal aging.

What is Bursitis?

The bursae are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction in the joints. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. When a bursa is inflamed, it can become very painful, even when you are resting. Like tendinitis, bursitis can be caused by overuse. It can also be caused by direct trauma to a joint.

Engaging in hobbies or activities that require repetitive motions or place stress on joints increases your risk for developing tendinitis and bursitis. Gardeners, musicians, carpenters and athletes can be more susceptible. 

Examples of activities that can bring on tendinitis or bursitis include:

  • Painting a ceiling for hours
  • Typing for long periods
  • Chopping, cutting or sawing
  • Clenching hands tighly while driving long distances or while using hand tools
  • Wearing improper running shoes
  • Kneeling or leaning on the elbows longer than usual on a hard surface (bursitis)

Some medical conditions can increase the risk of tendinitis and bursitis, such as arthritis, gout, thyroid disease and diabetes. An infection can also cause bursitis.

Updated on: 12/08/15
Continue Reading:
Diagnosis of Bursitis and Tendinitis