What are the treatment options for bursitis?

Updated: Dec 11, 2020
  • Author: Kristine M Lohr, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Most patients with bursitis are treated conservatively to reduce inflammation. Conservative treatment includes rest, cold and heat treatments, elevation, administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), bursal aspiration, and intrabursal steroid injections (with or without local anesthetic agents). [16]

Patients with suspected septic bursitis should be treated with antibiotics while awaiting culture results. Superficial septic bursitis can be treated with oral outpatient therapy. Those with systemic symptoms or who are immunocompromised may require admission for intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy.

Surgical excision of bursae may be required for chronic or frequently recurrent bursitis. Surgery is reserved as a last resort for patients in whom conservative treatment fails. The operation varies according to site.

Most patients respond well to conservative management. Patients who do not respond to nonoperative treatment or who have signs of tendinous or ligamentous injury require further evaluation. Consultation with a general or orthopedic surgeon or a rheumatologist may be helpful.

With regard to resumption of activities, patients should let pain be their guide.

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