Is it Bursitis Or Arthritis?

Posted by Bonnie Joffe on 12/23/2017
Is it Bursitis Or Arthritis?

Physical ailments that start affecting us as we age can sometimes be burdensome.

Hence, there are many aches and pains that are non-life threatening and less chronic but can still keep us from doing the activities we enjoy—2 of the more common of these less serious ailments are Bursitis and Osteoarthritis. These can easily be mistaken for one another. So, let's clarify which is which.

Bursitis: Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that act as a cushion between bones, tendons, joints, and muscles. Bursitis occurs when the fluid sacs become inflamed. [1] This inflammation generally occurs in the hips, elbows or shoulders. Bursitis can also be found in the knee, heel or even the base of your big toe. The cause is usually due to over use and the repetitive motion of these joints. [2]

Bursitis can make it difficult for one to move around, such as lifting oneself from a seated position on the sofa or a chair to a standing position, getting in and out of bed, bathing or even getting dressed. The goal to healing this type of condition is resting the affected joint (s) and avoiding any additional trauma. If you are suffering from a tremendous amount of pain, your doctor may recommend using some type of cane or walking aid to help relieve the pressure. If you sleep on your side, cushioning your knees with a small pillow may also be helpful.

Arthritis of Osteoarthritis (OA)- often called "wear and tear" arthritis, OA affects the joint cartilage, which breaks down over time. This common type of arthritis affects the joints—symptoms of swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion is typical. [3] OA affects people of all ages, sexes and race, occurs in people of all ages and can often mimic a bursitis condition. Unlike Bursitis, (which is not usually a permanent condition) and usually goes away over time, OA does not go away and is a condition that needs to be managed; treatments such as taking analgesics, hot and cold therapies, exercise and physical therapy are some of the more traditional treatments used. The only way to know for sure if you are suffering from arthritis is to visit your physician - tests, such as X rays or blood work may be ordered for proper diagnosis.


[1] Medicalnewstoday.com

[2] Mayoclinic.org

[3] Arthritis.com

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