Tendinitis (Bursitis): Symptoms, Treatment


Tendinitis and bursitis are common diseases that cause inflammation or degeneration of the soft tissue around muscles and bones. Tendinitis affects tendons, cord-like structures located where a muscle narrows down to attach to a bone. Bursitis is swelling in the bursa, a small, fluid-filled sac that cushions the bones and other body parts. Tendinitis and bursitis often involve the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle.

These two conditions are related to each other so closely that sometimes people use the two terms interchangeably. Because tendons and bursa are often closely situated, any inflammation that occurs in one may affect the other. So, a diagnosis of “rotator cuff tendonitis” and “shoulder bursitis” may sometimes be used to describe the same event.


Tendinitis and bursitis are independent yet co-existing conditions. Sometimes, they are caused by the same thing, but not always so. Tendinitis or bursitis can occur from an acute injury, but they are mainly related to repetitive use.

Sometimes an infection in the bursa or tendon will cause the area to be inflamed. Some medical conditions can also trigger tendonitis or bursitis, like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disease and diabetes. Older persons are more likely to get tendinitis and bursitis. Rarely, some drugs can cause tendinitis and tendon rupture.


Although tendinitis and bursitis affect different areas of the body, their signs and symptoms can be similar because the affected parts are very close to each other. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the affected joints that gets worse when moving
  • Inflammation and swelling around joint areas
  • Redness and heat
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Loss of motion of shoulder or frozen shoulder
  • A lump in the tendon in some cases


Proper diagnosis starts with an experienced physician. First, the doctor may ask about your medical history and symptoms, followed by physical examination. Tenderness along the tendon or its sheath (outer covering), or at one specific point in the tendon, suggests tendinitis. Other methods that can help with diagnosis include:

  • Imaging tests like X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound scans
  • Blood tests to check for infection and rule out other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
  • Drawing tissue from a swollen bursa to check for infection or rule out diseases like gout


Treatment options for tendinitis and bursitis depend on the cause of the conditions. If your condition is caused by injury or overuse, options can consist of:

  • Rest

You should rest the injured limb or joint, at least for a short time. If the problem is in a hip, leg or foot, you may need to stop stressful weight-bearing activities for a short time. This can lessen the inflammation.

This option may provide short-term benefit in certain forms of tendinitis and may be considered if you cannot endure NSAIDs.

If tendinitis or bursitis is caused by infection, you will need a proper antibiotic. Daily drainage of fluid with a needle may also helpful in managing the symptoms.

Sometimes, doctors will suggest you receive physical therapy to maintain strength and function. If, after a few months of treatment, tendinitis still limits an essential activity, you may need a surgical treatment.

Keywords: tendinitis; bursitis.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.