Bursitis vs. Arthritis: What Is the Difference Between Arthritis and Bursitis?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Arthritis vs bursitis: both common health issues that cause joint pain. The pain can be debilitating, and resulting issues like stiffness can limit motion and make it impossible to engage in certain activities.

The symptoms of arthritis vs. bursitis can overlap, but there is one thing that both conditions have in common: they affect millions of people. Fifty-eight million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, and 8.7 million have bursitis.

What are the differences between arthritis and bursitis? Here is a closer look at these two common conditions.

The Causes and Common Types of Bursitis

The body has more than 100 bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion between bones, tendons, and joints. Bursae are located throughout your body, and bursitis is when these fluid compartments become inflamed.

There are different types of bursitis, and most occur around the joints, such as the knee, elbow, hips, ankles, and shoulders. Bursa near the Achilles tendon can also become inflamed.

Older people who suffer from increased inflammation can get bursitis, as can people of any age who have certain conditions, such as diabetes, gout, or thyroid issues. Some workers or athletes who perform repetitive motions day after day may also develop bursitis.

Can you have bursitis and arthritis at the same time? It is possible; arthritis can cause bursitis in some individuals.

How do I Know if I Have Bursitis or Arthritis in my Knee?

Understanding bursitis vs. arthritis comparisons is important because bursitis is usually a temporary condition, while arthritis is chronic and leads to joint damage. There are a few ways to distinguish between the two conditions.

  • Time of day of worst pain — Bursitis pain is typically worst at night, while arthritis is most intense in the mornings.
  • Treatment — Bursitis will respond to treatments like pain relievers, ice packs, and anti-inflammatory medications, while arthritis will not respond to these measures.
  • Symptoms — With proper treatment, bursitis should disappear within a few weeks, while arthritis will continue to bother you for the long term. It is possible to have chronic bursitis, but the symptoms will still abate with treatment and won’t return until an activity or illness triggers the inflammation again.

Can bursitis be mistaken for arthritis? Some of the symptoms overlap. Both can cause stiffness and pain that worsens with activity. Overuse and traumatic injury can cause or exacerbate both conditions, which can make it difficult to tell the difference. However, a medical professional like those at Carolinas Pain Center can help you decide if you have bursitis or arthritis.

bursitis knee pain

Tendonitis is another common condition that can be mistaken for arthritis. It is an inflammation of joint tendons, which are next to the bursae. Stiffness and pain are symptoms of both conditions, and both are temporary. A physician can help you figure out whether you have bursitis or tendonitis. In both cases, rest and at-home treatments can yield results.

Bursitis vs Arthritis: Which is More Painful?

Acute bursitis and chronic arthritis pain can both be intense. Both can be uncomfortable enough to cause you to avoid certain activities.

The main difference is the duration of the pain. Bursitis pain lessens with treatment, while arthritis pain is chronic, so it will continue. People with arthritis manage their pain rather than try to cure it.

Is it OK to Walk with Knee Bursitis?

High-impact activities will not cause damage to your bones or joint if you have bursitis. However, these activities can cause pain. In fact, if you have knee bursitis, you may notice pain and stiffness from simply walking. In addition to causing discomfort, walking or exercising can lengthen the amount of time it takes to recover from bursitis. 

Most physicians will tell you to rest as much as possible and limit movement as you recover from bursitis. However, you typically do need to totally immobilize your joints, so you can walk at work or around your home.

Is Bursitis Pain Constant?

Bursitis pain flares up with movement, though you may feel some symptoms, such as swelling or warmth in the bursa, constantly without treatment. These symptoms may be most evident if your bursitis is caused by an infection.

Bursitis pain will often lessen when you remain immobile. However, some types of bursitis, such as in the hip or shoulder, can hurt if you put pressure on the affected area when sitting or lying down.

You should keep in mind that one of the most common differences between bursitis and arthritis in knee, shoulder, and hip joints is that the pain from bursitis is more temporary and will negate with treatment.

What Causes Bursitis to Flare Up?

It is possible to have acute or chronic bursitis. Flare-ups can occur when you perform high-impact activities or make repetitive motions. People with chronic bursitis often have other conditions that cause inflammation in the body. For example, gout, diabetes, and arthritis can lead to chronic bursitis. Even in these cases, the symptoms should disappear with rest and proper treatment.

arthritis vs bursitis knee pain

Make an Appointment with Carolinas Pain Center to get Joint Pain Relief

A medical professional can further explain the difference between bursitis and arthritis in the knee and other joints. It is important to find a healthcare team experienced in treating both these conditions.

At Carolinas Pain Center, we understand the debilitating nature of arthritis pain and chronic conditions like bursitis. We can diagnose the issue and provide joint and knee pain treatment options to help you regain the level of comfort and range of joint motion necessary to do the activities that you love and handle daily tasks without pain.

Whether you are suffering from bursitis or arthritis, or another type of joint condition, you do not have to live with life-limiting pain. The first step in overcoming these joint conditions is to make an appointment with Carolinas Pain Center. We can offer you the treatment options to give you the best possible outcome and help you manage your pain and focus on living an active life.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]