A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Treating “housemaid’s knee” or “miner’s elbow”

YBursitis_I-514677775ou don’t have to be a housemaid or miner to still be susceptible to bursitis, a medical condition known by numerous nicknames.

Bursitis is inflammation of bursa, small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate tendon and muscle movements over bone at the elbow, hip, knee and shoulder and at the base of the big toe. Bursitis can be acute or become chronic. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the area of the bursa.
  • Increasing pain with exercise or climbing stairs.
  • Rapid swelling.
  • Warm to the touch.

Causes of bursitis

Bursitis can develop from different causes:

Trauma or injury

Ordinarily, a muscle-pull shouldn’t affect a bursa. However, an injury that causes deep bruising could provoke brief inflammation of a bursa. This type of injury usually clears without treatment.


Inflammation can be caused by repeated strain on a joint. That’s why bursitis has nicknames like “housemaid’s knee”, “miner’s elbow” or “baker’s cyst” because it can be caused by actions like kneeling for long periods of time or using a hand tool with the same movement over and over.

Inflammatory arthritic disease

Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and gout can lead to the release of inflammatory agents into the bursas.


Many common bacteria can infect bursas making the area warm and painful.

Treatment can reduce swelling

For a mild bout of bursitis not caused by bacteria, treatment usually includes:

  • Rest to the injured area by perhaps changing the activity.
  • Ice and elevation to reduce swelling.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication if recommended or prescribed by a doctor.

In some cases, if swelling is significant, draining or aspirating the bursa may be needed to treat symptoms.

An injection of anesthetic and corticosteroids also may provide prompt relief. Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatories that usually reduce inflammation, although often only temporarily. If corticosteroid injections don’t help, the same medication may be given in pill form.

Bursitis caused by bacterial infections is usually treated with antibiotics.

Talk with your doctor or sports medicine provider if you have concerns about recurring bursitis.

This post provided by Sports Wrap, from Marshfield Clinic Sports Medicine.

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