Sudden Onset Joint Pain? Is it Bursitis or Tendonitis?

Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, which is a small sac that acts as a protective cushion between moving structures, for example, between bones, muscles, or tendons. However, when a bursa is inflamed, it becomes very painful, even during rest.

Tendons are cord-like structures that attach tendons to bone. Tendonitis is usually caused by overuse. Tendonitis can become a chronic condition if left untreated, so it’s important to get it treated early.

Most often, tendonitis or bursitis involves the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle. Onset of pain can be sudden and the pain it causes may be quite severe and can occur suddenly. For example, someone may always sleep on their side. However, one night they cannot sleep on their side because their hip pain has become too painful. A possible cause for that could be bursitis.

“Because both bursitis and tendonitis are inflammatory conditions, immediate treatment usually includes RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Anti-inflammatory medications may also provide some relief,” stated Dr. Steven Bernstein, a foot & ankle surgeon at OASIS Orthopedic & Spine Integrated Services. “However, in some cases, bracing, physical therapy, or surgery is needed to provide relief.”

If you believe you might have bursitis or tendonitis, and it persists after RICE treatment, arrange for a consultation with your physician and learn about all the treatment options available to you.