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Helpful Information Distinguishing Arthritis from Bursitis

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By Arthritis Support staff • • May 15, 2000

What may initially be interpreted as arthritis pain may be caused by a condition known as bursitis. Bursitis is an inflammation of the liquid-filled sacs that serve as cushions between tendons and bones. Without bursae, there is great friction resulting from the rubbing of tendons and ligaments against the bones. This friction can cause pain, usually in the shoulder, hip or elbow. It is important to know the difference in treatment methods for arthritis and bursitis.

Bursitis carries the following symptoms: limited mobility, tenderness, pain, inflammation and redness. The condition can be caused by overactivity, especially from sports.

While physicians usually advise arthritis sufferers to keep active, doctors tell those suffering from bursitis to limit the exercising of the affected joints. Icing of the joints may also help reduce swelling as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Bursitis pain should diminish within a few weeks.

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