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.
The yellow pigment called curcumin in turmeric is a very effective anti-inflammatory agent. Hence, turmeric is excellent for reducing pain, swelling and inflammation. It can treat both acute and chronic joint pain.
- Boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk. Add a little raw honey and drink it twice daily for at least a few days.
- Alternatively, take a curcumin supplement daily after consulting your doctor.
Note: Avoid excessive intake of turmeric as it may interfere with certain medications, such as blood thinners.
8. White Willow Bark
Herbal experts suggest using white willow bark to relieve bursitis. A compound known as salicin in this herb works as a natural painkiller. It also helps reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Add ½ teaspoon of dried white willow bark to a cup of boiling water. Cover, steep for 15 minutes and strain it. Drink this tea 2 times a day.
- Alternatively, take a white willow bark supplement of daily after consulting your doctor.
Note: This herb is not suitable for children and people taking blood-thinning medications.
9. Milk of Magnesia
Milk of magnesia can fight inflammation and pain in the joints. Being rich in magnesium, which is an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic substance, it can reduce inflammation in the body.
- Take 1 teaspoon of milk of magnesia with a glass of water twice daily for a week.
- Also, include magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as dark leafy greens, bananas, beans, lentils and oats.
- Alternatively, take a magnesium supplement after consulting your doctor.
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), derived from wood pulp, can also help in the treatment. Available in liquid and gel form, you can use it as a topical analgesic for rapid, temporary relief of pain and swelling. It penetrates easily and promotes the healing of pockets of inflammation.
- Apply a 70 percent solution of DMSO on the affected joint with a cotton ball.
- Rub gently to improve its absorption and effectiveness.
- Use this remedy 2 or 3 times a day for a few days.
DMSO may feel warm to the touch when it is applied, but it has a few side effects. If you don’t see improvement after trying this remedy then stop using it.
- Rest the affected area for a few days for quick recovery.
- Try acupuncture therapy to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
- To relieve pain and reduce inflammation, include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet.
- Cushion the affected joint with a small pillow while sleeping.
- Avoid applying any kind of pressure on the affected joint.
- Avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. Take frequent breaks and walk around.
- Strive to maintain a healthy weight to avoid stress on your joints.
- Perform strengthening exercises to maintain healthy joints and muscles.
- Do warm-up and stretching exercises before strenuous activities to protect your joints from injury.
- Vitamin C is a wonder nutrient for preventing and healing joint injuries. Eat vitamin C-rich foods or take a supplement after consulting your doctor.