Bodily movement is assisted by over 150 fluid-filled sacs called bursae. Bursae help to cushion your bones, ligaments, and tendons as they move against each other. When in good health these bursae ensure that your joins have a full range of motion. However, these sacs can become swollen and irritated, creating a condition known as bursitis.
The most common cause of bursitis is overuse of the joint. Repetitive movements can irritate the bursae, leading to pain, swelling, and tenderness. Common movements that may lead to bursitis are extensive kneeling (scrubbing the floor or laying carpet, for example), lifting heavy objects (lifting a bag of groceries into the car), and athletic injuries (an aggressive tennis swing). These movements cause the sac to fill with fluids. The resulting swelling puts pressure on the tissue around the sac, causing pain and tenderness.
Other less-common causes of bursitis include gout and infection. Gout crystals can form in the elbow, causing pain and inflammation. Bursae in the knee and elbow lie just below the skin. This leaves them vulnerable to puncture injuries, which can lead to infection.
People become more susceptible to bursitis as they age. Because the shoulder is the most used joint in the body, it is the place where it is most likely to be felt. People over the age of 65 should be especially cautious when carrying out activities that put stress on the shoulder joint.
Treating bursitis begins with conservative measures. Because bursitis due to injury and repetitive movement often goes away on its own, these treatments focus on relieving pain and making the sufferer more comfortable. Treatments for this situation include ice packs, rest, and over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers (such as Aleve or Advil).
In more severe cases, a physician may inject a corticosteroid into the inflamed sac. He or she may also use a needle to draw fluid out of the bursae, relieving pressure and quickly reducing pain. In very rare cases of persistent bursitis, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the problematic bursa.
Part of bursitis treatment is giving the body enough rest to heal the inflamed bursae. Patients should be careful not to overuse the affected area. Immobilization is best, as is getting plenty of rest. After the swelling and pain have receded, patients should be careful in how they treat the problematic area to reduce the chances of the problem recurring.
Bursitis can be painful, but for most people the discomfort will fade with time and rest. If the pain lasts for more than a week or two, or if it becomes so intense that you cannot carry out your daily activities, consult with your doctor.
Chiropractic care can be an excellent choice for relief of elbow pain. Not only does chiropractic care avoid the use of medications or surgeries, it aims to address the source of the pain as well as treat the symptoms. By actually fixing the structural components of your elbow (bones, muscles, etc.), you can experience both pain relief and prevention of future elbow problems.
There are three bones involved in the elbow joint: the radius (forearm), ulna (lower arm) and humerus (upper arm). The ball and socket style joint allows us to move the arm in a variety of ways, such as when we do bicep curls or when we turn the arm from palm facing down to palm facing up. The complexity of this joint means there are plenty of opportunities for strain and injury, irritation or inflammation. Usually pain in the elbow is caused by some combination of overuse, overexertion, genetic makeup and/or degenerative disease.
Common elbow conditions that can be treated by chiropractors include tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and bursitis. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a kind of tendonitis that results from overuse of the muscles and tendons that connect the forearm muscles. The repetitive motion of tennis can lead to this condition and usually causes a small amount of pain at first. The pain gradually increases and can make shaking hands or squeezing objects difficult. It is unlikely to go away on its own, and chiropractic treatment will likely include rest and ice, exercises, massage, and joint manipulation.
Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, but instead of the back or outside of the elbow, the condition usually affects the inside of the elbow. It is usually caused by repetitive stress from golf maneuvers, although golfer’s elbow can also arise from one violent swing. In addition to golfers, other people who use their elbows in a similar manner to golfers, such as carpenters, can experience this particular pain. Treatment for golfer’s elbow is very similar to that for tennis elbow.
Bursitis refers to inflammation or injury to the bursae, which are our joints’ shock absorbers. The elbow bursa is located at the end of the elbow, between the bones and loose skin. Bursitis is usually caused by trauma, prolonged pressure such as leaning on a desk, infection, or medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. If left untreated, pain and difficulty moving the elbow can result. The usual treatment for bursitis is ice and ultrasound.
While we are usually unaware of the bursae in our bodies, when one of them becomes inflamed, the pain is hard to ignore. A bursa is a pouch filled with a small amount of lubricating fluid that provides cushioning between a bone and a tendon, ligament, muscle or skin, which allows them to slide smoothly over the bone as it moves. Bursae are located wherever tissue and bone meet. When the tissue of the bursa becomes swollen and inflamed it causes bursitis.
Though bursitis can occur anywhere in the body where bursae are located, the most common areas are the shoulder, hip, knee and elbow. Elbow bursitisis one of the more common types of this disorder and is common among students and tennis players. Though this may seem an unusual combination of people at risk for this condition, it makes sense when you realize that bursitis can be caused by excessive repetitive motion (as in hitting a tennis ball, vacuuming or hammering, for example) or putting frequent pressure on the bursa (like when a student leans on their elbows at their desk).
A traumatic injury to the area, such as in a fall or a car accident, can also lead to bursitis. If bacteria get inside the bursa via a wound, an infection may result, leading to heat, redness, fever, chills, swelling and pain, and excess fluid will collect in the bursa, causing a large bump to form around the elbow (think of Popeye). Additionally, those who suffer from gout, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are at greater risk of contracting the condition.
The bursa of the elbow lies just behind the point of bone called the olecranon (which is why it is technically referred to as olecranon bursitis). As the inflamed tissue of the bursa stretches and fills with excess fluid, it reduces the amount of space around the joint, so it becomes more difficult for the joint to move, and causes feelings of pain and stiffness.
The first treatment for bursitis is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Rest the elbow as much as possible, being sure to keep as much pressure off it as possible. Elbow pads can be used to cushion the elbow, if necessary. Reduce swelling by applying ice and wrapping an elastic bandage around the elbow, and keep your arm elevated above your heart. You can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) to help decrease inflammation and reduce pain, and your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the bursa is infected.
Sometimes excess fluid is removed via aspiration, where a needle is inserted into the bursa so the fluid can be drawn out. This is an in-office treatment and a sample of the fluid may be sent to a lab to be checked for infection. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the bursa entirely, but this is only when the bursitis has not responded to other conservative treatment and the condition has been prolonged. In time, a healthy bursa usually grows back. Elbow bursitis generally heals in a matter of weeks or months, depending on its severity. Your chiropractor can recommend exercises to help restore range of motion.
Shoulder pain is a common complaint that patients present with to both primary care physicians and chiropractic practitioners. There are several underlying conditions that may cause discomfort in this area, many of which may be assisted by chiropractic treatment and manipulation. A proper diagnosis is important in order to determine what kind of treatment is indicated in each case.
Commonly observed causes of shoulder pain include:
Bursitis or tendinitis of the rotator cuff (inflammation of the shoulder joint, also called impingement syndrome, since the inflammation impinges on the ability of the shoulder to move fully)
Frozen shoulder (restriction of joint movement by the shoulder capsule, also known as adhesive capsulitis)
Rotator cuff tear (tearing of the shoulder tendons away from the bone). The rotator cuff refers to the group of four muscles and tendons that are responsible for moving the shoulder joint
Shoulder dislocation and shoulder instability (repeated dislocation, which may follow the initial occurrence as a result of the weakening and tearing of shoulder ligaments)
Synovitis (inflammation of the synovium that protects joint bones from rubbing together)
Calcific tendinitis (calcium deposits in the shoulder tendons)
Referred pain from the neck or elsewhere in the body
Arthritis (wearing away of shoulder cartilage)
The precise nature of chiropractic treatment for shoulder pain depends on which of the above diagnoses is made by your practitioner, but will likely include some degree of manipulation to ensure correct spinal alignment (especially in the neck) and improved shoulder mobility and function. Additional measures such as heat and ice packs, stretching and strengthening exercises, anti-inflammatory medication, rest and cortisone injections may also be discussed. Furthermore, your chiropractor will want to look at your overall health, diet and lifestyle to see if any improvements can be made to assist with your healing process. Signs that you should consult a chiropractor about your shoulder include the following:
Pain when carrying objects
Shoulder pain at night and when resting
Being unable to raise your arm
Pain that persists beyond a few days and is unimproved by rest and painkillers
Warmth, redness and/or swelling of the shoulder and/or fever, which may indicate infection
Bruising around the shoulder area
Chiropractors are specialist health care professionals who deal with shoulder pain on a daily basis.