Okay, the weekend’s here, and now it’s time to make up for five whole days of relative inactivity. Racquetball after work Friday night, touch football on Saturday morning, and you promised to clean off those high shelves in the basement in the afternoon—when suddenly you’re sidelined. Halfway through your list of activities, to your dismay, you find you cannot raise your arm because every time you try, you feel a sharp pain in your shoulder.
Secretly, you may be pleased—you really didn’t want to spend part of your weekend cleaning out the basement—but it also means that your fishing trip on Sunday is impossible. So you start thinking of quick ways to heal your shoulder.
Not so fast. It sounds as though you have a classic case of bursitis, a condition in which the bursa, a sac filled with a small amount of fluid that helps cushion your joints, becomes inflamed and totally fills with fluid. Because the sac is inflamed, anytime a joint moves near it, you’ll feel a sharp pain. Also, because the inflamed sac takes up more room than usual, it is difficult to move your arm or shoulder.
Bursitis is most often caused by an injury to the area or sudden overuse of the joint. Though it is commonly referred to the shoulder, bursitis can also appear in the knee, hip, elbow, or anywhere there is a bursa to minimize the friction between joints. For example, when the bursa that surrounds your elbow becomes inflamed and fills with fluid, the condition is called olecranon bursitis.
Because bursitis is common in certain occupations, some interesting names for bursitis have cropped up, depending on the area of the body. For instance, there’s housemaid’s knee and miner’s elbow, as well as weaver’s bottom, which is actually a form of bursitis in the hip.