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Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-full space, which is present around many of the bony prominence is in the body, such as for example the elbow or the kneecap. While bursitis may develop due to systemic inflammatory conditions and/or infective agents, by far the most common cause is repetitive trauma, hence the colloquial names such as “housemaid’s knee” and “student’s elbow“. These conditions can be extremely painful and unsightly. If the diagnosis is in any doubt, ultrasound scanning is usually utilised. Initial treatment involves activity modification as well as aspiration with local anaesthetic and steroid injection and subsequent local compression and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication use. While this is often successful in the short term, recurrences are fairly common and if multiple cycles of conservative treatment are unsuccessful, bursal excision may be considered.

A differentiation between an infected bursitis and an inflammatory bursitis must be made at initial examination. Due to the fact that these bursae often communicate with the local joints, and infective process may cause a septic arthritis if not treated early with antibiotics and/or surgical drainage.

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