How are Tendinitis and Bursitis Related?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2018
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Although they are two separate conditions, tendinitis and bursitis both impact body tissues around muscles and bones. In fact, each disorder creates joint inflammation, or irritation and enlargement of these tissues. While the affected tissues in bursitis are fluid-filled sacs, called bursae, tendinitis involves inflammation of the tissues connecting muscles and bones, tendons. The ailments also share similar origins, symptoms, and treatments.

Sometimes, tendinitis — also written tendinitis — and bursitis can coexist. Tendons and bursae are placed in close proximity to each other in the body at the juncture where bones meet (joints). The former helps bones move, and the latter helps reduce friction created by this movement. Due to their proximity, inflammation to both areas can occur simultaneously.

Tendinitis and bursitis often have the same causes. Infections, diabetes, or malfunctions in the thyroid gland can all generate these conditions. Perhaps the most common source for both bursitis and tendinitis is injury to the affected limbs. An injury sustained over time can facilitate both conditions, particularly the overuse of a muscle. Such chronic overuse puts increased strain on the muscle, which causes inflammation. A sudden direct injury is more likely to cause bursitis, however.


Symptoms of tendinitis and bursitis are also similar. Joint pain and tenderness of the afflicted area are characteristic of both conditions. Swelling, stiffness, redness, and warmth may concur with these primary symptoms. Target areas for inflammation coincide as well. The shoulders, elbows, ankles, and knees are especially frequent areas of attack, due to their prominent roles in body movement.

Since inflammation can affect different body parts, inflammatory conditions like tendinitis and bursitis are often divided into subclasses. For example, since tendon injuries often arise in athletes, some forms of tendinitis are classified by the sport and body part affected. Tennis elbow is one such case, as the repetitive motion of swinging a tennis racket will most likely put strain on the elbow. Jumper’s knee and swimmer’s shoulder are other examples.

Bursitis, on the other hand, may be classified as either chronic or acute, depending on the duration of the condition. Like tendinitis, bursitis can frequently recur. Bursae inflammations caused by infection are called septic bursitis. If left untreated, all types of bursitis can escalate into more severe conditions. The same holds true for tendinitis.

The close relationship between tendinitis and bursitis makes diagnosis and treatment of the conditions close in content. Detection may involve a collection of magnetic resonance imaging, muscle tension tests, and muscular palpitation by a medical professional. The professionals in question may be either general physicians, physical therapists, or doctors specializing in bone disorders — orthopedists — or doctors specializing in joint and muscle irregularities — rheumatologists. As for treatments, ice application, pain relievers, antibiotics, measured exercise therapies, and rest of the inflamed area are typical remedies. More severe injuries may require surgical intervention.



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