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When joint pain strikes, we often assume it’s arthritis. But, while that can certainly be the case, it’s not the only ailment that can knock you off your feet. Another common cause of hip and knee pain involves bursitis.

Thomas Calton, MD, offers numerous surgical and nonsurgical treatments for hip and knee pain at Elevate Surgical in Ogden, Utah, including corticosteroid injections. If hip or knee pain has slowed you down, here’s what you should know about bursitis and how steroid injections can help.

Bursae basics

When we talk about knee pain, cartilage and joint deterioration often take center stage. However, cartilage isn’t the only tissue in your body designed to reduce friction and provide a soft cushion when you move. Bursae also play a similar role.

Unlike cartilage that cushions and protects bone from bone, bursae ease pressure between bones and soft tissue, such as muscles, tendons, and skin near joints. You have approximately 160 bursae in your body, including four in a knee and one on the outside of a hip.

When your bursae function properly, these small, fluid-filled sacs allow the muscles, tendons, and bones to move so the joint can function without friction. However, if irritation sets in or if fluid builds up, they can also cause pain and rubbing in the joint — a problem known as bursitis.

Common signs of bursitis

Any bursa in the body can develop bursitis, but it’s most common in areas that get plenty of repetitive use, such as the hips and knees. Other causes of bursitis include injury, trauma, infection, and conditions, such as diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. Bursitis also becomes increasingly common with age.

No matter where you have bursitis, it can trigger telltale joint symptoms, such as:

  • Stiffness
  • Aches
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain or discomfort with touch or movement

Fortunately, bursitis often responds to conservative treatments, and you can avoid recurring problems with the right strategies.

Treating bursitis

Dr. Calton can diagnose bursitis by performing a physical exam and discussing your medical history. In some cases, he also orders additional tests, such as X-rays or fluid analysis from your inflamed bursa, to precisely pinpoint the cause of your pain and inflammation.

In many cases, you can find relief from bursitis with resting, icing, and taking a pain reliever. However, if your symptoms don’t respond to these methods, Dr. Calton could suggest a corticosteroid injection. This targeted approach involves delivering anti-inflammatory pain medications directly into the irritated bursa.

A bursa injection takes less than 10 minutes and often provides fast and effective relief. In fact, most people only need a single injection to get back on their feet.

For the optimal and most lasting results, Dr. Calton might recommend having a corticosteroid injection in combination with other approaches, such as:

  • Physical therapy, like stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Wearing supportive braces or slings
  • Limiting activities that irritate the affected joint
  • Losing weight

You can also avoid future bursitis flare-ups by using kneeling pads, taking frequent breaks while performing repetitive tasks, and learning ideal body mechanics to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your hips and knees. It’s also wise to exercise regularly, paying special attention to strengthening the muscles supporting your knees and hips.

Do you have bursitis in your hip or knee? To see if steroid injections may be able to help you, call (801) 758-0206 or book an appointment online with Elevate Surgical today.

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