Arthritis and bursitis is actually tough to distinguish. But, we will try to distinguish by starting with the definition. We know that arthritis refers to joint inflammation due to the degeneration of bones and tissues. On the other hand, bursitis refers to the bursa inflammation, which is a sac-type opening between the bones and tendons or muscles, aiding in friction control. In a human body, there are over 140 bursa. Most people know bursitis as ‘water on the knee’.
A bursa is actually a sac packed with fluid. Such bursae, also called sacs, are spread across the body where ligaments or tendons tend to shift. They actually save the tendons, bones, and muscles flanking the joints against movement-related friction. It has been found that frequent pressure, acute stress, aging, and overuse have the power to lead bursae to get inflamed and emit too much fluid that accumulates within. Therefore, the influenced region is filled with pain and that swelling, redness, and heat might be felt.
Next point of distinction between arthritis and bursitis is the body parts getting influenced. In arthritis, weight-bearing joints like knees and hips are mostly affected. While in bursitis, hips, big toe, heels, shoulders, and elbows are more easily affected.
Considering the causes, then direct shock, infection in a joint, stress in muscles, and arthritis lead to bursitis. So, we now know the relationship of arthritis and bursitis. Arthritis is mostly due to the deterioration of cartilage as well as the tissues as a sign of aging. Further, even gout as well as autoimmune diseases can lead to arthritis.
If we consider the treatment options, then they are more or less the same for arthritis and bursitis. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen, ice application, rest and corticosteroid injections form the primary therapy options. However, if infection is responsible for the medical condition, then antibiotics treatment is inevitable. In case you are suffering from a severe state of bursitis that remains over some weeks or swelling is too much, then bursa might be drained to remove the extra fluid. Sometimes, the surgical removal is also suggested, which is a small procedure that ensures healing. And yes, nutritional diet and exercises are a must. In most cases, bursitis is often healed via RICE that stands for:
- R – Rest
- I – Ice
- C – Compression
- E – Elevation
You just need to consult your orthopedist who would actually perform an X-ray to check out for the condition of bursitis. Actually, x-ray does not cast the film of bursitis, but aids in excluding the similar conditions like arthritis. Know that the major cause of bursitis is osteoarthritis that is an age-related condition. Therefore, it is often suggested to take a second opinion, ideally from an orthopedic expert. Doing so will allow you to know and compare what two diagnosis or judgments say and then proceed accordingly.
Arthritis actually comprises of over 75 different disorders. Whereas, bursitis does not boast any type. In many cases, bursitis is just detected by judging the site of discomfort, unlike arthritis.