Bursitis is an often painful condition that involves the inflammation of a bursa – fluid filled sacs that act as cushions and allow for the gliding between body tissue surfaces to reduce friction and help facilitate joint movement. Much of the time, the condition is temporary, limiting motion. However, can also become chronic, which can lead to more long term issues.
Common symptoms include: localised pain, swelling, a feeling of heat in the area, increased pain, stiffness, skin reddening of the affected area.
Bursitis can happen in any bursa in the body, but the common types include:
- Retromalleolar tendon bursitis: caused by things like injury, disease, or shoes with rigid back support, this putting extra strain on the lower part of the Achilles tendon.
- Posterior Achilles tendon bursitis: in the bursa between the skin of the heel and the Achilles tendon.
- Hip bursitis: often the result of injury, overuse, spinal abnormalities, arthritis, or surgery.
- Elbow bursitis: caused by the inflammation of the bursa located between the skin and bones of the elbow (the olecranon bursa).
- Knee bursitis: may be caused by lack of stretching before exercise, tight hamstring muscles, being overweight, arthritis, or out-turning of the knee or lower leg.
- Kneecap bursitis: common in people who are on their knees a lot, such as carpet layers and plumbers.
The most common causes include: Overuse, injury, being overweight, infection associated with other conditions such as arthritis, gout, tendonitis, diabetes, and thyroid disease and surgical procedures.
Chronic bursitis may involve repeated attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness, which can even lead to deterioration of muscles and a limited range of motion.
The treatment of the condition is dependent on whether there is also an infection.
- For aseptic bursitis treatment can include: rest, ice, compression, and elevation; anti-inflammatory and pain medicines; injection of a steroid into the affected area; Splints or braces to limit movement.
- Septic bursitis treatment can include: Antibiotics; Repeated aspiration; Surgical drainage and bursectomy.
Prevention of bursitis (and management of chronic bursitis) can/may include: warm up before exercising and start new sports gradually, take breaks with repetitive tasks, cushion at risk joints with elbow or knee pads if appropriate, stop activities that cause pain to the area, and practice good posture in daily work and life activities.
Ayurvedic Approach to Bursitis:
According to Ayurveda, bursitis is seen as a dominant Vata dosha vitiation that also involves Pitta and/or Kapha. Due to causative factors, vitiated Vata dosha will displace the Rakta (blood), along with Pitta and Kapha dosha, which are then pushed into the circulatory channels. This then manifests as an accumulation of Pitta, Rakta, and Kapha in between the skin and the muscle. Swelling then starts to occur at the site, leading to what is referred to as bursitis.
The bursa can be filled with either inflammatory/infected fluid, or sterile fluid. When the inflammation is active and there is inflammation, pain and redness, burning etc, then treatment falls under the line of Pitta alleviating. When the bursa is filled with fluid (which is more prevalent in the later stages of the condition), Kapha alleviating treatment should be given.
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR BURSITIS:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Aloe vera, licorice, bala, bhibitaki
Vata Kapha Balancing: Shallaki, Castor Oil, Nutmeg, Rasna, Ashwaganda
Pitta Vata Balancing: Guduchi, amalaki, shatavari, comfrey
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Manjista, daruharidra, neem
Kapha Vata Balancing: Ginger, castor oil, guggulu, agnimantha, turmeric, bhringaraj, rasna
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Shallaki, amalaki, triphala, ashwaganda, neem
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Bursitis:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Avoid causative factors and rest the affected area.
- Control pain and decrease inflammation and swelling
- Balance Jataragni, and digestion
- Remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body)
- Balance doshic imbalances/blockages through diet/lifestyle/herbs
- Facilitate weight loss (if required)
- Abhyanga, localised oleation of affected area, swedana, dhara, lepa bodywork therapies
- Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
- Panchakarma detox therapies (where required)
- No strenuous activities or exercise to the affected area
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Bursitis:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods, be sure to use some ghee in cooking.
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks and aerated beverages, high fat foods, greasy foods, extra salty foods.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- Buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Bursitis:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.