What is the role of NSAIDs in the treatment of bursitis?

Updated: Dec 11, 2020
  • Author: Kristine M Lohr, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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NSAIDs are used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In a multicenter, double-blind, parallel study involving 372 patients with acute (≤72 hours) traumatic bursitis or tendinitis of the shoulder, 90% of patients treated with diclofenac 50 mg two or three times daily improved over 14 days, with 40-50% demonstrating at least moderate improvement. [31]

A randomized trial by Kim et al in 133 patients with olecranon bursitis treated with compression bandaging and NSAIDs, aspiration, or aspiration with steroid injections found no differences in the proportion of patients whose bursitis resolved by week 4. Although treatment with steroid injection after aspiration was associated with earliest resolution, the authors note the risk of complications with that method and the possibility of recurrence, and so suggest that “compression bandaging and a short course of NSAIDs may offer the most appropriate balance of safety and efficacy”. [32]

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