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Acupuncture for Bursitis

A bursa is a fluid-filled, saclike structure that provides cushioning between bones, tendons, and muscles around joints in the body. Lined by synovial membrane and containing an inner capillary layer of viscous fluid, bursae help reduce friction and allow free movement of the body.

When bursae become inflamed, a condition called bursitis arises. Joints may feel achy or stiff, look swollen and red, and there may be pain when one moves or presses on these areas. Bursitis may involve disabling joint pain, pain that lasts for more than 1-2 weeks, excessive swelling, redness, bruising, a rash in the affected area, sharp or shooting pain, or a fever. 1

Symptoms of bursitis may be caused by direct injury to a part of the body, prolonged pressure (such as when one prolongs kneeling or leaning on an elbow), overuse or strenuous activity, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or spondyloarthritis, infection (septic bursitis), or crystal-induced arthropathy (such as in cases of longstanding or tophaceous gout). Common areas for bursitis are the shoulder, elbow, buttocks, hip, knee, and ankle. 2

In most cases, isolated bursitis is a self-limited condition that is reversible. Unlike cartilage, bursa has the ability to heal, which makes typical treatments for bursitis focus on relieving immediate symptoms to avoid secondary complications related to immobilization such as muscle atrophy or joint contracture,and to maintain range of motion. 3

While conventional treatments of bursitis involve icing affected areas and analgesia in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, acupuncture can also be used as a natural therapy. 4

A part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture supports the idea that our bodies, out of balance due to years of stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices, can be brought back to equilibrium through the practice of needling points on energy channels (located throughout the body) called meridians. When certain points on these meridians are stimulated, several things happen: acupuncture activates anti-inflammatory chemicals, releases particular hormones, and inhibits cell receptors – some of which may control the pain experience.

In addition, early researchers believed that the benefits of acupuncture resulted from the release of endorphins that caused the “feel good” sensation. However, recent research is demonstrating that there are possibly several mechanisms of action that occur with acupuncture that include an enhancement of blood flow, stretching of connective tissue, and nerve signals that reboot the autonomic nervous system. Some theories about how acupuncture works include the release of neurotransmitters, effects on the stress response system (or the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis), and gate control theory in which stimulation of certain pain nerves creates a competing pain sensation in the body which results in a decrease of pain. 5

Like any medical treatment, acupuncture needs to be administered by a highly and properly trained acupuncturist. Most states require acupuncturists to be licensed and the FDA requires all needles to be new and sterile. 6

That being said, the acupuncture treatment one receives depends on the locality of bursitis in the body. Acupuncture is not a treatment that can be performed at home or on oneself, so one must first consult with their physician to see if acupuncture is safe for them. If so, one can then contact a licensed acupuncturist and commence treatment.

Written by Nicole Kagan

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bursitis/basics/symptoms/con-20015102
  2. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00325/Bursitis.html
  3. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/bursitis-an-overview-of-clinical-manifestations-diagnosis-and-management?source=search_result&search=bursitis&selectedTitle=1~131
  4. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/bursitis-an-overview-of-clinical-manifestations-diagnosis-and-management?source=search_result&search=bursitis&selectedTitle=1~131
  5. https://wholesomeone.com/article/science-behind-acupuncture-treatment-osteoarthritis
  6. https://wholesomeone.com/article/science-behind-acupuncture-treatment-osteoarthritis

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Natural Health News and Articles Video

3 Exercises for Shoulder Bursitis

Bursitis may make joints feel achy or stiff, and there may be pain when one moves or presses on these areas. Dr. Mandell exhibits three simple exercises that can help in recovering specifically from shoulder bursitis.

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Yoga for Hip Bursitis

In this video by Suzanne Morgan, she demonstrates 5 yoga poses specifically to help people suffering from hip bursitis.


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DMSO for Bursitis

Reviewed & edited by Dr Jeffrey Lederman and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD

A bursa is a fluid-filled, saclike structure that provides cushioning between bones, tendons, and muscles around joints in the body. Lined by synovial membrane and containing an inner capillary layer of viscous fluid, bursae help reduce friction and allow free movement of the body.

When bursae become inflamed, a condition called bursitis arises. Joints may feel achy or stiff, look swollen and red, and there may be pain when one moves or presses on these areas. Bursitis may involve disabling joint pain, pain that lasts for more than 1-2 weeks, excessive swelling, redness, bruising, a rash in the affected area, sharp or shooting pain, or a fever1.

Symptoms of bursitis may be caused by direct injury to a part of the body, prolonged pressure (such as when one prolongs kneeling or leaning on an elbow), overuse or strenuous activity, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or spondyloarthritis, infection (septic bursitis), or crystal-induced arthropathy (such as in cases of longstanding or tophaceous gout). Common areas for bursitis are the shoulder, elbow, buttocks, hip, knee, and ankle2.

In most cases, isolated bursitis is a self-limited condition that is reversible. Unlike cartilage, bursa has the ability heal, which makes typical treatments of bursitis involve relieving immediate symptoms to avoid secondary complications related to immobilization—like muscle atrophy and joint contracture—and to maintain range of motion3.

When first affected by bursitis, patients are normally told to ice affected areas. Similarly, patients are taught principles of joint protection and are educated in the recognition of aggravating factors. Patients may also be given analgesia, to dull the pain, in the form of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or naproxen. In cases of inflammation of the deeper bursae, an intralesional injection of a combination of local anesthetic and glucocorticoid is administered3, and other corticosteroids may be injected locally as well. An important element of treatment is rest, in order to prevent further irritation and allow healing to begin2.

In addition to these conventional treatments for bursitis, a more natural approach that is currently growing in popularity uses dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a chemical made from wood pulp that enters the skin and promotes the healing of areas affected by inflammation2. DMSO, while sold as both a liquid and a solid is most often recommended in a 99.9 percent liquid form4. Creams and gels are also available, but may cause side effects that include prolonged itching and irritation. On occasion, mild reactions to the liquid, such as a warmth or slight itching at the area of application, may still occur.

According to Dr. Weil, American medical doctor and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, one should use a 70 percent solution of DMSO. Apply the solution to the affected area with absorbent cotton and let it dry. This should be done three times a day for three days. Then, if there is improvement of symptoms, reduce the frequency of treatment to twice a day for three more days, and then once a day for a final three days. After treatment, one’s body can continue to heal on it’s own2. It is also recommended that if there is no improvement after the first three days of treatment, use of the solution should be stopped2.

For suffers of persistent bursitis that does not respond to conventional therapies, DMSO is a potential natural treatment to try. Continuos application of topical DMSO in combination with rest and proper joint care may significantly help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms associated with inflammation of the bursae.

Written by Nicole Kagan

References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bursitis/basics/symptoms/con-20015102
  2. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00325/Bursitis.html
  3. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/bursitis-an-overview-of-clinical-manifestations-diagnosis-and-management?source=search_result&search=bursitis&selectedTitle=1~131
  4. http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/natural-therapies-bursitis/#dmso


 

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Condition

Bursitis Natural Treatments

Written by Sandy Cho, MD and reviewed by Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Bursitis is an inflammation of the body’s small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints called bursae. Bursitis is often caused by repetitive motion and use of a joint.

There are several natural treatments for bursitis including Herbal Medicine, Supplements, Homeopathy, and Exercise.

The following provides information on bursitis natural treatments.

Overview

What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is an inflammation of the body’s small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints called bursae. These bursae help to lubricate and cushion the joints. Bursae are most commonly affected at the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee joints in the body. Bursitis is often caused by repetitive motion and use of a joint. Some examples include:

  • Throwing a baseball
  • Lifting an object over your head repeatedly
  • Prolonged kneeling on a hard surface
  • Leaning on your elbows for extended periods of time

Bursitis can also occur as a result of mild injury, infection of a joint, or arthritis.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Aching or stiffness of the joint that worsens with movement
  • Sharp or shooting pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warm joint

What are conventional treatments?

The treatment of bursitis usually involves resting and elevating the affected joint and alternating between applying hot and cold packs to the affected area.
Medications: NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be used to reduce inflammation and pain

  • Over –the-counter NSAIDs: include Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. These may cause gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Prescription NSAIDs: such as diclofenac (Voltaren) may also be used. Such medications may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke if used for a prolonged duration

Injections: an injection of corticosteroid into the bursa may reduce inflammation and pain.
Surgery: in a few, rare cases, surgical intervention may be warranted.

Herbs

Herbs can help reduce inflammation found in bursitis and have been used throughout time in all parts of the world.

To ensure safety and avoid drug interactions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Boswellia (Boswellia serrata): Extracts of Boswellia serrata have been clinically studied for osteoarthritis and joint function as well as in reducing pain and inflammation of the joints of the body. 150 mg three times a day has been shown to be effective. Boswellia gel may be used for topical application.
  • Turmeric: a well- known spice that has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both Chinese and Indian medicine. 375 mg three times a day for three months has been shown to be effective.
  • White willow (Salix alba): boil 2 grams (half teaspoon) of its bark in 8 ounces of water. Drink up to 5 cups per day. As white willow acts similarly to aspirin, please consult with your healthcare provider before taking if you are allergic to aspirin or salicylates. Children under 18 years of age should not be given white willow.

Supplements

Along with a diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish, while avoiding processed foods and foods in high in sugar and fat, supplements can help reduce inflammation in bursitis.

To ensure safety and avoid drug interactions, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these supplements:

  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant. In terms of cellular health, because it is an electron donor, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and keep the cells in a reduced or natural state. Vitamin C can help to repair connective tissue such as cartilage found in joints.
    • The ester form of Vitamin C is better absorbed than other formulations
    • Vitamin C at a dose of 2000 mg a day is a good starting dose
  • Glucosamine sulfate: as effective as NSAIDS in treating pain, it may benefit those experiencing moderate to severe pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin can also reduce total body inflammation, including lowering C-reactive protein levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Supplementation with Omega 3 fish oil can decrease the inflammation and reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis and/or bursitis. In one study, the use of Omega 3 fish oil and glucosamine together markedly showed a decrease in stiffness and pain compared to those who just received glucosamine.
    • A good anti-inflammatory dose is at least 3-4 grams a day to start and slowly increase to a maximum of 7-8 grams
    • As this supplement can thin the blood, if you are on any blood thinners, you may wish to start at a lower dose and increase upwards

Homeopathy

Homeopathic medicine provides support and relief for those suffering from bursitis.

  • Arnica gel has been demonstrated for reducing inflammation of the joints. The application of Arnica topically to the hands or knees can be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

Bodywork

  • Chiropractic treatment is often used to treat people with bursitis, affording them decreased pain and increased range of motion. Chiropractic medicine involves adjustments or manipulations of the spine and joints to realign vertebra and joints. The treatment objectives consist of reducing inflammation of the joint, restoring proper posture and movement, and bringing the whole body back to its healthy state.
  • Acupuncture can help reduce swelling and inflammation as well as relieve pain in the joints from bursitis. Frequently used for pain relief, the Chinese philosophy believes by putting needles in certain locations, the body’s energy flow or qi can be rebalanced and provide relief. Many Westerners think the stimulation of certain nerves, muscles and connective tissues increases the body’s blood flow and release of endorphins which can lessen discomfort.

Fitness

  • Exercise provides a multitude of benefits. From a greater immune system, increased stamina to stronger muscles, exercise is highly recommended. In bursitis, exercising the muscles around the affected joint helps to reduce the pressure on the affected joint and bursa itself. Exercises such as yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi can help improve the strength of your muscles and ligaments while reducing muscle tension.

 

  • Hochber MC, Clegg DO. Potential effects of chondroitin sulfate on joint swelling: a GAIT report. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2008;16 Suppl 3:S22-S24.
  • Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee — a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2003;10:3-7.
  • Ross SM. “Osteoarthritis: a proprietary Arnica gel is found to be as effective as ibuprofen gel in osteoarthritis of the hands.” Holistic Nursing Practice. 2008 Jul-Aug;22(4):237-239.
  • Schmid B, Ludtke R, Selbmann HK, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of a standardized willow bark extract in patients with osteoarthritis: randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial. Z Rheumatol. 2000;59:314-320.
  • Shakibaei M, John T et al. Suppression of NF-kappaB activation by curcumin leads to inhibition of expression of cyclo-oxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in human articular chondrocytes: Implications for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2007 May 1;73(9):1434-145.
  • Vas J, Perea-Milla E, Mendez C, Galante AH, Madrazo F, Medina I, et al. Acupuncture and rehabilitation of the painful shoulder: study protocol of an ongoing multicentre randomised controlled clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2005 Oct 14;5:19.

Updated: October 2013