Bursitis pain occurs when the bursae, or the fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion between your bones, muscles, and tendons, become inflamed and irritated. It is especially common following an injury or repetitive motions. Fortunately, there are natural treatments for bursitis that can help relieve pain and other symptoms.
The most common bursitis symptoms include discomfort in certain bones and muscles; feeling very stiff or achy; difficulty sleeping; and trouble doing everyday activities like walking, getting dressed, or showering.
Joint pain and tenderness often develop in different body parts, including the knees, elbows, hips, heels, wrists, and shoulders.
People who get bursitis more often include gardeners, carpenters, musicians, and athletes. Other risk factors for developing bursitis include being in an accident; having poor posture; overtraining; healing from surgery; having bone spurs or calcium deposits; and having other inflammatory conditions such as gout, thyroid disorders, arthritis, psoriasis, infections, or an autoimmune disorder.
There are a number of natural cures or treatments for bursitis, including rest, heat and cold therapy, and stretching, among others. In this article, we will examine several in detail.
15 Natural Treatments for Bursitis
Bursitis will often last a few weeks to several months; however, untreated bursitis can last even longer. Bursitis symptoms can be similar to gout, tendonitis, diabetic neuropathy, arthritis, and more.
A doctor will need to confirm the cause of your bursitis with a physical exam, which may include pressing on swollen spots around the affected joints. You will also inform your doctor about your medical history, work, hobbies, and any recent falls or injuries.
Once it is confirmed that you have bursitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, painkillers, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or corticosteroid injections. However, in most cases, home remedies for bursitis can help you naturally treat painful symptoms and underlying causes.
What are the best natural treatments for chronic bursitis? In general, bursitis will get better on its own, especially when rest, hot or cold compresses, and other natural remedies are used to relieve pain. As a guide, the following are home remedies for bursitis relief that can help.
1. Rest the Affected Area
A basic natural method in the treatment of bursitis is resting the joint or affected area. This will give the area time to heal. Taking a break from repetitive movement or exercise can help reduce inflammation.
How long it takes to heal is different for everyone, but in most cases, several weeks of rest is often effective. You can stretch the painful area when things begin to feel normal again. That being said, you will likely feel slight tension, but not intense pain.
You will be able to perform everyday activities that do not cause pain, including walking. Outside of this, you will want to take it easy. From a long-term perspective, you should also avoid overtraining and rest between workouts.
To help relieve pressure, your doctor may suggest a temporary assistive device, such as a brace, splint, crutch, or walking cane.
2. Warm Compresses
A warm compress is very helpful in cases of chronic bursitis and 48 hours after a case of acute bursitis. A warm compress is able to fight inflammation, reduce stiffness, and improve blood flow to the affected joint.
To create a warm compress, dampen a thin towel with warm water, and apply it to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this method a few times daily.
Other types of warm compresses include a heating pad, hot water bottle, and simply washing the affected area with warm water.
3. Cold Compresses
It is a good idea to alternate between a warm and cold compress. A cold compress is able to reduce swelling and pain due to bursitis. It is the cold temperature that helps to numb the affected area, reduce inflammation and tenderness, and bring down pain and initial swelling.
Cold compresses are often most effective when used within 24 to 48 hours of developing bursitis. You can wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel, and put the ice on the affected joint for around 15 to 20 minutes every four or six hours.
After you remove the ice pack, elevate the joint above your heart and continue to rest. Repeat this three to five times per day for the best results.
You likely will not find much relief from an ice pack when your chronic bursitis is a long-term problem, however.
4. Stretching and Exercise
You will want to let your bursitis pain subside a bit before doing any type of physical activity. Still, movement is necessary to help keep the joints limber and reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
Gently stretching and exercising your painful area can help speed up the time it takes to heal. Stretching and frequently exercising susceptible joints and muscles can also help prevent the recurrence of bursitis. Moreover, itâs important to stretch and warm up before any exercise routine.
Your doctor may also suggest a physical therapist or personal trainer for a proper stretching and exercise program designed to prevent recurrent pain and slowly strengthen the muscles around the affected area, such as your hips.
Hip bursitis exercises include weight lifting and working with resistance bands, which help strengthen muscles around the joints. You will also want to take frequent breaks during your exercise routine, and stretch during this time.
In general, avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you work at a desk, take regular breaks to stand up and move around.
Massage therapy can also help reduce bursitis pain; improve circulation, mobility, and flexibility; strengthen the muscles; and decrease stiffness and swelling around the affected area.
You can also perform massage on yourself. Gently heat sesame oil, olive oil, or coconut oil, and apply the warm oil to your affected area. Massage the area with gentle and firm pressure for about 10 minutes. You will also want to place a warm towel over the affected area.
Repeat this self-massage technique three times daily and until there is improvement in your bursitis.
6. Proper Posture
Among the natural treatments for bursitis is maintaining proper posture. Poor posture when standing, sitting, sleeping, or exercising can cause extra wear and tear on bursae and joints, and lead to pain. Practicing good posture, on the other hand, can help take extra pressure off your hips, spine, neck, and other susceptible body parts.
Support your spine by sitting and standing upright, avoiding titling forward or back; keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in tight during the day; practicing proper alignment during stretching and exercises; and strengthening your core with abdominal exercises.
If you sit at a desk for many hours at work, focus on practicing good posture while sitting and standing upright. Also consider using an ergonomic chair or working with a chiropractor who can help with targeted adjustments.
7. An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet is also a great way to reduce pain, prevent inflammation, and treat inflammatory conditions such as bursitis.
This healthy diet will largely include a variety of fresh and organic fruit and vegetables; wild-caught fish, free-range eggs, and grass-fed beef; healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, coconut, nuts, and seeds; and probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt.
You should also avoid foods that contribute to inflammation, such as GMO foods, refined grains, conventional dairy, sugary drinks, and other processed foods.
Another one of the better home remedies for bursitis pain is turmeric (Curcuma longa). The active substance in turmeric is called curcumin, and itâs used to reduce the inflammation, swelling, and acute and chronic joint pain associated with bursitis.
Research shows that curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world. Turmeric is also considered a natural painkiller. You can take curcumin supplements or drink turmeric tea on a daily basis.
Consult a doctor before using turmeric since it may interfere with certain medications, including NSAIDs and anti-coagulants like warfarin, clopidogrel, and aspirin.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is another natural painkiller, with antioxidants; anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties; and therapeutic compounds such as paradol, shogoal, gingerol, and zingerone.
Ginger also improves circulation and promotes healing. As a result, the addition of ginger to your diet could help treat muscle pain and joint pain related to bursitis.
In one study, daily ginger consumption led to moderate to large reductions in muscle pain due to exercise-induced muscle injury.
For ginger tea, boil a tablespoon of sliced ginger in two cups of water, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Strain it and add raw honey. You can also massage ginger oil onto the affected area a few times per day.
You can also wrap a few tablespoons of freshly grated ginger in a cheesecloth, and tie it tightly. Put it in hot water for 30 seconds, allow it to cool, and place it on your affected area for 10 minutes. Do this method up to three times daily.
10. White Willow Bark
White willow bark (Salix alba) is often used as an alternative to aspirin. The active ingredient in willow bark is called salicin. The salicin in willow bark works similarly to aspirin since it can reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
White willow bark is available in capsules, liquid form, tea form, and as a topical solution. For white willow bark tea, add a half-teaspoon of dried white willow bark to a cup of boiling water, let it steep for 15 minutes, and then strain it. Drink white willow bark tea twice daily.
11. Castor Oil
Folk healers have used castor oil to treat health conditions for thousands of years. Castor oil is a non-volatile fatty oil that is made from the seeds of the castor bean (Ricinus communis).
It is a type of triglyceride fatty acid, and almost 90% of its fatty acid content is a rare compound known as ricinoleic acid. Observational studies have found that topical ricinoleic acid produces remarkable anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Castor oil also contains antioxidant properties, and may therefore boost circulation and reduce bursitis pain, inflammation, and joint swelling.
Soak a piece of wool flannel in castor oil, place it on your affected joint, and cover the area with plastic wrap. Place a heating pad on top, cover with a towel, and leave everything in place for 30 to 40 minutes. Rinse the oil from your skin with warm water.
Use the treatment up to four times weekly.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made from apple cider that has undergone fermentation. ACV is another bursitis remedy that is thought to balance pH levels, reduce inflammation, and enhance circulation.
To use ACV for bursitis, soak a thin towel in the solution and wrap it on your affected area, leaving it for several hours daily.
For a tonic, you can also combine a tablespoon of ACV and a teaspoon of raw honey in a glass of water. Consume this ACV tonic twice daily for three days.
13. Vitamins and Supplements
There are a number of nutrients that help relieve pain and inflammation. B vitamins and vitamin B12 shots, for instance, can help relieve bursitis pain. Vitamin C is also used to prevent and heal joint injuries.
Chondroitin and glucosamine are antioxidants that are effective at building strong connective tissue and lowering joint inflammation. Additionally, vitamin E oil can be applied to affected areas to increase joint flexibility and movement.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is the oxidized form of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), and both can reduce inflammation and promote healing.
14. Homeopathic Remedies
Numerous homeopathic remedies are used for bursitis. Arnica montana is useful when bursitis is related to a strain or traumatic injury. Belladonna is used for bursitis with throbbing, intense discomfort and a sensation of heat. Sulphur is a homeopathic remedy used for bursitis with burning pain and left-sided inflammation.
Other homeopathic remedies used for bursitis include sanguinaria, Ruta graveolens, Rhus toxicodendron, Kalmia latifolia, Ferrum phosphoricum, and bryonia.
15. Essential Oils
Essential oils may also reduce swelling and bursitis pain. Frankincense oil and peppermint oil can be applied to your affected area to reduce pain and inflammation.
Other popular essential oils for bursitis include ginger oil, basil oil, coriander oil, juniper berry oil, rosemary oil, chamomile oil, wintergreen oil, helichrysum oil, bergamot oil, lemongrass oil, geranium oil, and lavender oil.
You can also use these essential oils during massage therapy, add them to a bath, or apply them before or after stretching.
Final Thoughts on Natural Treatments for Bursitis
Bursitis is a condition that occurs when the bursae become irritated and inflamed. It is a common condition in people who get injured or move repetitively, such as athletes, musicians, gardeners, and carpenters. The condition can cause uncomfortable pain in your bones, joints, and muscles, and most often in your hips, elbows, shoulders, and knees.
In this article, we detailed a number of natural treatments for bursitis. For example, stretching, massage, or practicing proper posture can help. Resting the affected area or using a hot or cold compress can also go a long way towards relief.
Other natural cures or treatments for bursitis include an anti-inflammatory diet, turmeric, ginger, castor oil, white willow bark, apple cider vinegar, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, MSM, DMSO, homeopathic remedies, and essential oils.
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