At-Home Tips to Improve Bursitis Pain

Bursitis Pain

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion the gliding surfaces between bodily tissue. There are more than 150 known bursae in your body. When the ones at your major joints — shoulder, hip, knee, and elbows — become inflamed, you feel pain, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion. 

Bursitis, or inflammation of the bursae, usually results from injury or overuse. If you have symptoms of bursitis, come see our team at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics, located in Fremont, California. Nic Gay, MD, Masi Reynolds, DO, and April Mancuso, MD, diagnose this condition and help you manage it, so you can go back to normal activity without pain and limitations. 

Here’s what we recommend doing at home to improve bursitis pain.


Resting the affected joint improves the speed of your recovery. Pushing through pain only causes more inflammation. If you have an elbow or shoulder with bursitis, do your best to use your other arm for most activities. Hips or knees affected by bursitis need rest, so skip runs, hikes, and long periods of standing. 


Icing the affected joint for 10-20 minutes several times a day alleviates inflammation and bursitis pain. The best time to ice is when you notice acute pain or noticeable swelling. 

Over-the-counter medications

It’s okay to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease your pain. Always follow package instructions and do not take more than indicated. Keep in mind that in some people, NSAIDs can cause ulcers or stomach problems, so it's best to talk to our team before taking these medications for long periods.

If you’re taking these medications to push through pain, then stop. Pushing through pain only increases inflammation and makes bursitis worse. 

Stop smoking

Smoking tobacco or being exposed to second-hand smoke can delay tissue healing. If you smoke, make every effort to quit. We can provide you with resources if you need them. 

Range-of-motion exercises

Prevent stiffness by moving the affected joint slowly through its full range of motion every day. Even if you’re diligently resting the joint to reduce inflammation, you can softly rotate your arm at your shoulder or bend and extend the knee. As your pain subsides, we can help you add exercises that strengthen the muscles around the joint. 

When you need medical help

Usually, bursitis resolves with at-home care and rest. But if you have pain that rapidly worsens, dramatic redness or swelling, or sudden immobility in an affected joint, contact us immediately. 

You should also reach out to our team at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics if you still have notable pain after three weeks of at-home treatment and rest. We may need to offer medical treatment to help you find relief. 

Medical treatment includes splints or bracing, corticosteroid injections, and surgical drainage and removal of affected bursae. 

Prevention of future bursitis 

After recovering from a case of bursitis, prevent it from happening again by:

Bursitis symptoms look a lot like many other orthopedic problems, so proper diagnosis is essential. If you have pain, swelling, redness, and inflammation at a joint, call contact Silicon Valley Orthopaedics right away. Call or use this website to schedule your visit.

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