Bursitis is an inflammation of one or more bursae, the fluid-filled sacs found in the joints. It may affect the joints in a shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, heel or the base of a big toe. The condition may be chronic or acute.
The most common causes are repetitive movements or pressure that irritates the bursae. Other causes include injury, chronic systemic diseases and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and gout.
Depending on the affected joint, people may experience different symptoms. Some common signs and symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and difficulty using the affected joint.
Anyone can develop bursitis, but certain factors may increase your risk including aging and a job or hobby that requires repetitive motion or pressure on particular bursae.
Bursitis may be a sign to take it easy and rest your body to reduce pain and swelling. In most cases, it goes away on its own within a week or two with proper rest.
In fact, rest is the first line of treatment to help the injured or inflamed area heal. Some natural remedies also help relieve pain, treat the condition and prevent recurrent flare-ups.
However, seek medical help if you experience excessive swelling, sharp pain or a fever.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for bursitis.
1. Cold Compresses
When dealing with swelling and pain due to bursitis, cold compresses are a good remedy. The cold temperature helps bring down the initial swelling and reduces pain by numbing the affected area. It also helps reduce tenderness and inflammation.
Cold compresses are usually most effective when used within 24 to 48 hours of developing bursitis.
- Wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Put the ice pack gently on the affected joint for about 15 minutes.
- After removing it, elevate the joint above your heart and rest.
- Repeat a few times a day until you get relief.
Note: Do not apply ice directly on the skin as it can cause frostbite.
2. Warm Compresses
After 48 hours for acute bursitis or anytime for chronic bursitis, warm compresses are very helpful. They help improve blood flow to the affected joint, reduce stiffness and fight inflammation.
- Dampen a thin towel with warm (not scalding) water.
- Apply it on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat a few times a day.
You can also use a hot water bottle or a heating pad as a warm compress. You can even wash the affected area with warm water.
Massage helps reduce the discomforts from a sore joint. It improves circulation and reduces swelling and stiffness. It also helps you relax.
You can do massage yourself or get it done by an expert.
- Heat up some olive, coconut, sesame or mustard oil.
- Apply the warm oil on the affected area.
- Massage using gentle yet firm pressure for 10 minutes.
- Put a warm towel on the affected area.
- Repeat a few times daily until your condition improves.
Note: Avoid massage if infection is causing your bursitis.
4. Castor Oil
Castor oil is another effective remedy to reduce pain and swelling in the joints. The ricinoleic acid in castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve pain and minimize inflammation. It even helps improve mobility of the joint.
- Soak a piece of wool flannel in cold-pressed castor oil.
- Put it on the affected joint and cover it with a plastic wrap.
- Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on it and cover that with an old towel.
- Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes, then remove it.
- Gently rub the oily residue left on the skin or rinse it off with warm water.
- Use this treatment 3 or 4 times a week.
Ginger is a natural pain reliever that can help reduce the pain and discomforts of bursitis. It also contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities similar to aspirin or ibuprofen. In addition, it improves circulation, which promotes quick healing.
- Wrap 3 to 4 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it tightly. Put this in hot water for 30 seconds. Allow it to cool, then place it on the affected joint for 10 minutes. Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
- Another option is to massage the affected area with ginger oil a few times daily.
- Also, boil 1 tablespoon of sliced ginger in 2 cups of water and let it simmer or 10 minutes. Strain, add raw honey for taste and drink it 2 or 3 times a day.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another commonly used remedy for bursitis. It helps restore the alkalinity of your body, which in turn reduces inflammation.
In addition, minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus in apple cider vinegar help balance fluids.
- Soak a thin towel in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and use it to wrap the affected area for several hours each day.
- Also, mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little raw honey in a glass of water. Drink this tonic twice daily for a few days.