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Whether it’s the knee, shoulder, or ankle, bursitis and tendonitis can be painful and bothersome conditions. Tendons are tough connective tissues found on either side of a joint. These tendons attach to muscles which control joint movement. Every joint also has a bursa. These fluid-filled sacs minimize the rubbing and resistance so your joints can move freely. It is because of this that these conditions can often go hand-in-hand.

What Causes Bursitis and Tendonitis?

Bursitis and tendonitis most often result from the overuse of a joint. Repeated motion usually causes inflammation of tendons and bursae. If you’ve started a new activity, such as playing a new sport, you may be putting stress on parts of your body that aren’t accustomed to it. The joints that commonly suffer overuse injury are:

When we age, our bodies tend to become less flexible and make us more susceptible to tendonitis and bursitis. Diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis weaken body tissue, resulting in a higher risk of bursitis and tendonitis.

What Causes Bursitis and Tendonitis?

Pain from bursitis and tendonitis can come on suddenly or develop overtime. When a tendon or bursa is inflamed, pain can manifest in different ways:

  • Sharp pain when moving or touching the joint.
  • Aching when the joint is at rest.
  • Swelling and redness in the injured area.
  • May feel warm to the touch.

If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of bursitis or tendonitis, you may need treatment. Find your condition below with our online condition tool.



Treatment for bursitis and tendonitis can be similar in nature and is highly dependent on the cause. For an accurate treatment, your specialist will conduct a physical exam, often including a selective tissues test to determine which tendon is causing the pain.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Bursitis and Tendonitis

When the cause of your bursitis and tendonitis are from repetitive motions and overuse, a range of non-surgical treatments can be implemented, such as:

  • Rest. Avoid unnecessary movements of the joint.
  • Ice. Cooling the affected area helps reduce swelling.
  • Heat. Use a heating pad. Take a warm bath or sit in a hot tub.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines. Over-the-counter medicines like naproxen sodium (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) reduce swelling. Arthritis and sports creams such as Icy Hot and Aspercreme reduce inflammation as well.
  • Physical therapy. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can help heal the pain.
  • Injection. Your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection to help alleviate pain.

If there are signs of an infection, your doctor may choose to drain the fluid from the bursa.

Surgical Treatments for Bursitis and Tendonitis

Most cases of bursitis and tendonitis heal with conservative, non-surgical treatments. If you have exhausted all of the conservative treatments with no positive changes or results, the next step could be a surgery to repair damaged tissue or relieve pressure from the inflamed tissue. This is rare but possible.

If you think you are experiencing bursitis or tendonitis pain, find the right treatment for you with our online treatment finder below.


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