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Bursitis (Inflamed Bursa)

Bursae are fatty sacs found all over the body. Their job is to prevent friction between bone and soft tissues, but they can become irritated and inflamed themselves. This is bursitis.

Inflamed Bursa

Trochanteric Bursitis

One common area of bursitis is on the outside of the hip. This bursa protects the IT Band (and TFL muscle) from irritation on the femur. The ITB is often tight or tender, especially if there is an underlying problem with the knee. One of the TFL/ITB complex’s roles is to help to stabilise the knee. If the tissues do become tight for a prolonged period, they can irritate the trochanteric bursa.

Typically, this presents as a deep ache on the outside of the hip. It might be tender to press or lay on, but should feel some relief with a cool compress. Increased walking might irritate it, but so could some sitting positions. Osteopathic management to ease the pressure in the area gives the bursa a chance to calm down, although it can take a while for the inflammation to completely resolve. We will support you through each stage of recovery to get you moving properly again as soon as possible.

Knee Bursitis

There are bursae all over the knee, and each one is irritated by slightly different factors. The one just above the knee cap can become inflamed if the quadriceps are tight. Tight quads can also cause irritation of the joint between the knee cap and the rest of the knee, so bursitis might only be part of the picture.

Tight quads can be associated with prolonged sitting and the start of hip arthritis. The muscles become tight to protect against hip extension (bringing your leg backwards). In the case of arthritis, this movement is often lost first, so knee pain could even be an early sign of osteoarthritis.

Some forms of bursitis can result in a large swelling. “Student’s Elbow”, so called because of its association with pressure from a desk, can lead to an egg-sized lump on the elbow. However, a lump in the back of the knee is more likely to be a cyst than an inflamed bursa, so do speak to your osteopath before starting any new management strategies yourself.

Osteopathic Management

We look at your problem in relation to the rest of your body. Trochanteric bursitis is often linked to a knee problem, as the IT Band tightens in response to knee instability. Osteopaths treat the person, not the condition, so the entire treatment plan will be tailored to your specific presentation.

In addition to treatment in clinic, we can also give you exercises and advice to manage your symptoms. Some people like to use a cool compress, as ice is good for inflammation. However, this should only be done in short bursts, without the aim of numbing the skin. 10 minutes per hour is a good guideline. Exercises will be tailored to you, and may involve stretching the affected muscle. Alternatively, the approach may be to strengthen another area to take the demand away from the muscles that are overworking.


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