Bursae are small sacs of fluid that form around your joints and provide cushioning that reduces friction between bones and tendons. When one of these sacs becomes swollen and inflamed, the resulting condition is called bursitis. This condition typically develops in the knee, hip, shoulder or elbow, and the pain can be intense. Bursitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the area or by a sudden, more serious injury. Age also plays a role. As tendons age, they are less able to tolerate stress, are less elastic, and are more prone to tearing. Certain remedies for bursitis may be easily accessible and worth giving a shot.
Wear Padding and Use Mobility Aids
Padding your joints that are affected by bursitis will dramatically reduce your chances of worsening the injury. Knee and elbow pads are particularly useful, and they don’t interfere too much with normal functionality. You can also further reduce pressure on some bursitis sites by using a cane when walking.
Consider Acid-Forming Treatments
Some research suggests that people with chronic bursitis, which lasts for months or years at a time, may involve calcium deposits that can be treated by changing your body pH level. Since calcium deposits are alkaline, including more acidic foods in your diet can be helpful. Start by drinking a glass of water with one tablespoon of apple vinegar mixed in every day.
Alter Your Sleeping Habits
Make sure you are not putting any pressure on the area affected by bursitis while you sleep. If you normally sleep on your right side, which is now affected, sleep on your left side until the injury is healed, and vice versa. Consider raising the affected area when you’re at rest, as body parts elevated above heart level show marked decreases in inflammation. You can place a pillow between your knees to stabilize your pelvis and raise the sore hip. Similarly, you can place a foot or elbow with bursitis onto a soft pillow during the night.
Stock Up on Pineapple
Pineapples are a great source of an enzyme called bromelain, which reduces inflammation. Sports research shows that consuming pineapple chunks or drinking pineapple juice decreases swelling developed during bursitis. Pineapples are also delicious, so there is no reason not to start this home remedy right away!
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a clear liquid with an oily texture that can be used as a topical treatment for bursitis. It reduces inflammation, pain, and swelling caused by bursitis. The best option is to use a liquid version, since the gel and cream versions may cause skin inflammation. Mix one teaspoon of water with two teaspoons of DMSO, and then rub a little onto the bursitis-plagued area a few times a day. Avoid using DMSO if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, suffering from diabetes, or dealing with kidney or liver damage. Some non-prescription forms of DMSO can contain dangerous impurities.
It’s tempting to return to your normal workout routine and sports, but resist it and give yourself enough time to recover properly. Don’t feel guilty about staying home or in your bed. Studies show that those with bursitis in lower body parts, such as the knees or ankles, delay recovery if they spend a lot of time standing, especially on hard surfaces. That doesn’t mean that you should stop moving altogether, since immobilizing the affected area reduces strength and may be linked with the formation of additional scar tissue, but keep the intensity low and remember to take regular rests.
Increase Your Vitamin C Consumption
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is extremely helpful when your body is repairing damaged tissues after an injury. In addition, the protective bursa, where your bursitis has developed, can degrade or fail to form properly if you are deficient in vitamin C. Get a high intake of vitamin C each day by getting a glass of orange or spinach juice; make a smoothie with parsley, papaya and lemon; or eat pasta with broccoli, bell peppers and tomatoes.
Use Ice at the Beginning
Cold is very effective at numbing pain and helps to bring down the inflammation associated with bursitis. Wrap an ice pack or a few ice cubes in a cloth or towel to avoid burning the skin on the affected area, and ice for 15 to 20 minutes every 4 to 5 hours.
Use Heat Later
Ice compresses work best in the first days after you develop bursitis because they bring down inflammation and swelling. Once the swelling starts to go down, move to heat treatment. Using a heating pad or patch can really soothe the ache, and it also boosts your circulation, which helps to get rid of some of the excess fluid that’s hanging around the injured area.
Finally, an acupuncture session, during which very fine needles are carefully inserted into key areas of the body, may help to treat the pain caused by bursitis. Unless you have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, consider making an acupuncture appointment to see if it helps your bursitis.