Bursitis occurs when the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) responsible for cushioning the joints, muscles and tendons, become inflamed. It is most common in joints that perform repetitive motion. Conventional treatment involves resting the affected area and shielding it from further injury. Some natural supplements might also be of benefit and you should discuss those with your doctor. The pain usually clears up within a few weeks but intermittent flare-ups are common.
Self-care methods are the most common treatments for bursitis. Get plenty of rest and avoid movement that will aggravate the inflamed joint. Immobilize the affected area as best you can and apply ice to the joint to relieve swelling.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the following dietary guidelines to promote healing. Combat inflammation by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids like cold-water fish and walnuts, and avoiding inflammation-causing foods like processed foods high in sugar and bad fats, like those found in meat, margarine and fried foods.
Over-the-counter pain medications like Advil, Aleve and Motrin can treat pain and inflammation. If the inflammation is more severe, your doctor will give you a corticosteroid injection; corticosteroids tend to work quickly and you will probably only need one shot. If the joint inflammation is due to an infection, you will need a course of antibiotics. Be sure to take as directed and finish the whole prescription.
In some cases, your doctor might suggest physical therapy or exercises to strengthen the muscles where bursitis is present.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests several supplements might be of benefit for bursitis. You do not need to take every supplement listed since many offer similar benefits. This is an area of natural medicine where consulting with an experienced health care provider is helpful. She can provide guidance in designing a treatment regimen.
Glucosamine reduces inflammation associated with bursitis; take 500 mg three times a day. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, fights inflammation as well; take 250 mg twice a day. Discuss this treatment with your doctor if you take blood-thinning medications. Do not use bromelain if you have a peptic ulcer. Herbs that reduce inflammation include boswellia (150 mg three times a day) and evening primrose oil(1,200 mg daily). Arnica gel, a popular homeopathic remedy, offers quick pain relief. Use as directed on the label.
Alternative Treatment Modalities
Acupuncture can ease swelling and inflammation, and is especially useful for relieving pain. Chiropractic care focuses on joint manipulation and might be of benefit. Massage, particularly myofascial release therapy, can ease the discomfort of the affected joint. Do not use massage if your bursitis is the result of an infection.