Bursitis, a condition similar to arthritis, is a painful condition caused by injury or pressure on a joint. It can be brought about by athletic activities such as running, throwing, jumping or by stretching while playing tennis, bowling and other sports. Heavy lifting, repetitive motions or working in an unusual position for a long period of time can also trigger Bursitis. It generally affects athletes and people engaged in physically strenuous activity – but it can also affect otherwise sedentary people who undertake laborious tasks.
Bursae are little fluid sacs around the shoulder, knee and other points of contact between bones, tendons and ligaments. The body has over 150 Bursae, and their purpose is to reduce friction so that the joints can move smoothly. When a joint is subjected to excessive use, tension or pressure, a Bursa fills with excess fluid and gets inflamed causing pain, swelling and tenderness in the area.
The shoulder, which has the greatest range of motion in the body, is most commonly affected by Bursitis. Other places are elbows, joints and knees. The pain and stiffness are most severe after waking up from a night’s sleep and tend to reduce as normal daytime activities are resumed. Conventional treatment of Bursitis involves rest, compression with ice, intake of analgesics and anti-inflammatory medicines. However, because of the side effects of these medicines, more and more people are opting for Ayurvedic treatment of Bursitis.
Treatment and Home Remedies
Kerala, in South India, is famous for its traditional Ayurvedic physicians or vaidyas, who have in depth expertise in specialized treatments that are effective and cost effective, as well as being easily available. They have several herbal remedies for Bursitis, containing boswellia, licorice and guggul, in addition to other medicinal plants. Boswellia and Ashwagandha especially are well known Ayurvedic herbs that reduce inflammation and stress on joints. It has been shown that Boswellia helps to reduce the immune cells that promote inflammation while increasing the number of immune cells that inhibit inflammation. Turmeric is also used to relieve inflammation caused by Bursitis. Ginger too works wonderfully and has been used for centuries. Ginger can be applied directly on the skin by making a poultice. Another simple remedy is to prepare a mixture by boiling a tbsp of cayenne pepper with apple cider vinegar and applying it over affected areas.
Emu oil contains high level of linolenic acid which has anti-inflammatory effect. Emu oil penetrates into the skin easily to provide relief. Application of castor oil over the affected area and covering it with cotton will give relief and the therapy becomes more effective if the heat compression is done too. Application of warm olive oil, sesame oil, sandal wood paste, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil and neem oil are other effective herbal remedies for Bursitis.
A diet which is rich in vitamin B12, magnesium and calcium is recommended by Ayurvedic physicians. They also suggest that you soak a grated potato overnight in a cup of water and drink the strained liquid before breakfast on a daily basis to soothe the pain- this is a tried and tested remedy which is easy to carry out too. Sea water is also said to be of therapeutic value in the case of chronic Bursitis, and it will be helpful to drink the broth in which seaweeds such as kelp have been boiled. Kelp is rich source of minerals and the broth will help to replenish the deficiency which causes Bursitis. Application of the ice to the affected area will not only reduce the pain but will also help eliminating the inflammation. In fact, continuous application of hot and cold compression alternatively will have maximum effect.
There are also some precautions that must be taken. Be sure to warm up before strenuous exercise or athletic activity and to cool down afterwards to avoid straining joints With adequate treatment and rest, Bursitis usually disappears within a couple of weeks. Most important of all, it is advisable to engage in regular physical activity and exercise in moderation to strengthen the muscles so as to prevent Bursitis or its recurrence.