If you've ever experienced severe pain, swelling, and redness in your joints,
you may have been feeling the effects of a condition known as bursitis. Bursitis
occurs when the bursa, a sac inside every joint that acts as a cushion between
the tendons and the bones, becomes inflamed. This may be the result of an
infection, an injury, excess activity, or another condition such as arthritis or
gout. Bursitis most frequently affects major joints, such as those in the
shoulders, hips, knees, or elbows—tennis elbow is an
example of bursitis. Often pain will get worse with movement, and may
significantly restrict your range of motion in the affected joint. Conventional
treatments include injecting a steroid directly into the bursa, and using pain
relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and hot and cold packs. A splint or sling
may be worn to keep the joint from moving. Exercises are usually recommended to
gently increase the range of motion once pain has become manageable. Surgery is
sometimes necessary in cases of chronic bursitis.
The primary role of complementary and alternative therapies is to reduce pain
and inflammation as well as promote overall joint health.
Certain foods may encourage inflammation: try to avoid the saturated fats
found in dairy and animal products. Other foods may reduce inflammation, such as
the oils found in cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds. Be sure to incorporate some
of these into your diet.
Adding the following dietary supplements to you diet may also
- Glucosamine sulfate (500 mg two or three times a day) to promote
connective tissue health.
- Omega-3 oils (1,000 mg two or three times a day), such as flaxseed
oil, to reduce inflammation.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (1,000 mg three times a day) to help
repair connective tissues.
- Bromelain (250 mg twice a day) to reduce
Try one or more tinctures of the following anti-inflammatory herbs. Tinctures
are preparations made from alcohol (or water and alcohol), containing an herb
strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent.
For acute pain relief, try taking 15 drops every 15 minutes, for up to four
doses; for general pain relief, take 30 drops four times a day.
- Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
- White willow (Salix alba)
- Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia erythrina)
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Your homeopath may recommend "Traumeel" injections as an alternative to
injecting steroids. Some other homeopathic remedies for bursitis are listed
here. Usually the dose is 12X to 30C every one to four hours until symptoms
improve. Be sure to consult an experienced homeopath for the correct remedy and
potency for your individual needs.
- Arnica is for bursitis that occurs after an injury to a
- Arnica gel is applied topically (to the skin) for short-term
- Ruta graveolons is for rheumatic pains in the joint.
- Bellis perennis is for an injury accompanied by a great deal of
Acupuncture can be very effective at reducing joint pain, swelling, and
If you think you have bursitis, visit your doctor for a full diagnosis. Also
be sure to talk with your physician or pharmacist to best determine which herbal
or nutritional supplements are for you. Some supplements should not be taken if
you have certain medical conditions or are taking particular prescription
Most cases of bursitis can be prevented altogether by avoiding overusing a
joint, resting between periods of activity, and making sure to stretch and warm
up before strenuous activity. Symptoms usually resolve within one to two weeks,
but will likely recur if the joint continues to be overused.