Bursitis occurs when one or many of the fluid-filled sacs known as bursa, which serve as a cushion between different body tissues, become inflamed. It is typically the result of one of three common causes. The first of the main causes of bursitis is injury, either from an acute trauma or from ongoing behavior such as repeating the same movement or staying in the same position for long periods of time. The second common cause is when infection sets into the bursae, leading to inflammation. Finally, certain underlying diseases such as gout or scleroderma may cause crystals to form inside the sacs, which can irritate them and cause bursitis.
One of the most common causes of bursitis is injury. Often it is the result of repetitive motions that strain the tissues near the bursae, such as running for long distances, playing sports like golf or tennis which repeatedly bend the elbow, or lifting heavy objects every day as part of a job. Sitting or kneeling in the same position for a long time or doing so on a hard surface like a bench or floor may also cause injury with bursitis. Acute injuries can also be to blame; overstretching, a fall, or being hit can all cause damage which will aggravate and inflame the bursae in the area.
Of the main causes of bursitis, infection is the one that most frequently affects the bursae which lay near the surface of the skin, as it is often a result of bacteria getting into the body through a cut or puncture wound. This type is usually referred to as septic bursitis, and is often caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Staphylococcus epidermis that are frequently present on the skin and tend to be opportunistic when injuries pierce the skin. People with compromised immune systems, such as alcoholics, those with HIV/AIDS, or those undergoing chemotherapy or steroid treatment, may be especially prone to developing this type of bursitis.
There are some types of medical conditions that are frequent causes of bursitis. The main diseases that typically lead to this problem are gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. All three can result in the formation of crystals which then create deposits inside the bursae. These crystal deposits can irritate the sacs, leading to inflammation and pain.