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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Bursitis

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Bursitis in right shoulder [posted 1/4/99]
Question: I am currently taking Ibuprofen, 600 mg for bursitis in my right shoulder. I had taken it previously for what was thought to be arthritis in my left hip. I have noticed that my fingernails have ridges from the base in lines to the tip. I remember hearing previously that it represented a health condition. Can you tell me if I should be concerned with this?

Answer: Probably not, ridges are pretty common and usually don't mean anything if the rest of your health is ok.

Elbow Bursitis
Question: I have had water on my elbow for about one week now and am wondering what I should about it. I do not remember hurting it in any way before it appeared there.

Answer: This probably represents bursitis of the elbow bursa. This can occur with minor trauma to the elbow or after repeated trauma. It is treated by use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and if this is not successful injection of steroids into the bursa itself are done. Bursas are sacks which are near several joints. Their purpose is to decrease the friction necessary in moving the joint and allow free movement. However, they are prone to inflammation and collection of serous fluid.

Question: I would like information about causes and treatments for bursitis. Concerning treatment, I would like information about prescribed drugs and about other types of treatments that may exist.

Answer: Bursitis is due to inflammation of the bursa. Bursas are sac like structures found near many large joints. Bursitis can be due to trauma, inflammation, infection overuse and inflammatory arthritis (like gout, pseudogout, etc.). Treatment centers on removing the cause of the inflammation. This is accomplished by resting the bursa (joint), heat, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and occasionally steroid injection into the bursa itself. Aspiration of the bursa is commonly done if there is a large amount of fluid since anti-inflammatories don't work very well with large amounts of fluid in the bursa.

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