Bursitis is a swelling and soreness (inflammation) of a fluid-filled sac (bursa) that overlies and protects a joint. It can be caused by injury, overuse of the joint, arthritis or infection. The joints most likely to be affected are the elbows, shoulders, hips and knees.


  • Apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes each hour while awake for 2 days. Put the ice in a plastic bag and place a towel between the bag of ice and your skin.

  • Rest the injured joint as much as possible, but continue to put the joint through a full range of motion, 4 times per day. (The shoulder joint especially becomes rapidly "frozen" if not used.) When the pain lessens, begin normal slow movements and usual activities.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Your caregiver may recommend draining the bursa and injecting medicine into the bursa. This may help the healing process.

  • Follow all instructions for follow-up with your caregiver. This includes any orthopedic referrals, physical therapy and rehabilitation. Any delay in obtaining necessary care could result in a delay or failure of the bursitis to heal and chronic pain.


  • Your pain increases even during treatment.

  • You develop an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C) and have heat and inflammation over the involved bursa.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.