Bursitis and Tendinitis

Bursitis and tendinitis refers to inflammation of the bursae and tendons. These soft tissues, located throughout the body, can become inflamed with trauma, repetitive use, muscle weakness or arthritis of nearby joints. Typical sites that patients develop bursitis and tendinitis include the shoulders, knees, hips, feet and hands.

Causes and Risk Factors

The most common cause of bursitis and tendinitis is overuse tied to repetitive movements. Persons with careers or hobbies that call for persistent repetitive motions are at a higher risk for developing one or both of these conditions. Less common conditions associated with bursitis and tendinitis include infection of the bursa or rupture of the tendon due to severe inflammation.


The following are the most common symptoms of bursitis and tendinitis. However, each person may experience symptoms differently.

  • Pain, often described as an aching or burning sensation, that worsens with movement
  • Localized tenderness
  • Limited motion
  • Mild swelling if the inflamed bursa is close to the surface of the skin


In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic tests for bursitis and tendinitis may include:

  • X-ray
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound
  • Aspiration
  • Blood tests


Medical treatment is usually successful in treating the inflammation and pain, and includes:

  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS)
  • Ice
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections

Prevention of tendinitis or bursitis includes proper conditioning, stretching and regular exercise.

Contact Us

To learn more about our rheumatology services or to make an appointment with a Brigham and Women’s Hospital rheumatologist, contact one of our trained coordinators at 1-800-294-9999 to get connected with the best doctor for your needs.

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