Sports Medicine: Bursitis

A Spine Center physician reviews an X-ray.


What is bursitis?

Bursae are small sacs filled with fluid; they cushion the bones, tendons and muscles that make up your joints. When these sacs become inflamed, what you feel is bursitis. It can occur in any joint, but the most common sites are the shoulder, elbow, and hip.


Pain, swelling, redness, achiness, and stiffness in a joint are all signs of bursitis. The joint may also hurt more if you press on it.


Repetitive actions are the most likely cause of bursitis: sports, activities, or occupations that involve kneeling, throwing, lifting, or even sitting for long periods of time can lend themselves to this condition. Gardening, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing — all can become culprits because of the repetitive or overuse actions required. As with other joint conditions, age (bursitis is more common in those over 40), and chronic conditions like diabetes and gout are also factors. An infection in the joint may also cause bursitis.


“First, your physician will ask a lot of questions about the symptoms you feel, and take a detailed medical history that will also include information about your occupation and activities,” says Frank Corrigan, MD, an orthopedic physician at OINJ . “After a physical exam, it might be determined that an imaging test would be helpful. For example, although an x-ray wouldn’t show bursitis, it would help to rule out other possibilities for your symptoms. You may need a blood test, or to have fluid from the affected area analyzed.”

“Once the proper diagnosis is arrived at,” says Christopher Castro, DO, a physiatrist at OINJ, “Treatment can be started. If there are signs of infection, an antibiotic is indicated. If not, and rest, ice, and pain relievers don’t work, physical therapy can help. At OINJ, we start with conservative and non-invasive treatments first. We may decide that some sort of splinting or assistive device is indicated: for example, if the bursitis is in your hip, we might recommend that you walk with a cane for a while, to take the pressure off that joint. Or, we might decide to use a corticosteroid injection to help with the pain.”

“We can also discuss ways to prevent your bursitis from coming back. Depending on which area is affected, this can include proper lifting techniques, stretches, and equipment such as knee pads,” says Dr. Corrigan.

It all starts with the right diagnosis. If your symptoms have persisted for more than a week, you have sharp or shooting pain, or a lot of swelling or redness in the area, make a doctor’s appointment promptly.

Why Choose The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey

At OINJ, board certified physicians work collaboratively to come up with the best solutions for you. Using innovative techniques and the most up-to-date research and technologies available, our specialists have one goal: to get you back into the best of orthopedic health. We work with each other, as well as with other partners in your care, to develop the treatment plan that will work for you.

Our multiple office locations that can be reached by one centralized call center make it easy to schedule and get to appointments, and we treat patients of all ages with injuries and orthopedic conditions of all kinds.

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Featured Physicians

Christopher Castro, DO – Physiatrist

As a physiatrist, Dr. Castro has expertise in non-operative spinal care, interventional spine procedures, pain management, occupational medicine, and electrodiagnostic studies. Board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. Castro incorporates medications, therapies, injections and lifestyle changes to help his patients improve function.

Dr. Castro completed an advanced fellowship at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ); held his residency at the Sinai Hospital Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation program in Baltimore; and received his medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. His undergraduate degree in chemistry was earned at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Frank J. Corrigan, MD – Orthopedic Physician

Board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, Dr. Corrigan has a subspecialty certificate in Surgery of the Hand. His areas of expertise include fractures, hand and fingertip injuries, nerve and tendon repair, rotator cuff problems, and tennis elbow.

Dr. Corrigan completed a hand and upper extremity fellowship at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, and did his orthopedic residency at St. Louis University Medical Center in Missouri. He completed his surgical internship at the Mayo Clinic, and received his medical degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis.

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The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey is a premier multi-disciplinary center offering complete orthopedic care, rehabilitation and pain management services to patients of all ages and activity levels using a customized treatment plan to fit individual needs.

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