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Difference between Arthritis and Bursitis

Arthritis and Bursitis may seem same medical conditions but they are different from each other. Arthritis is the joint inflammation and bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac-like cavity which surrounds the joints. Let us see how arthritis differs from bursitis!


Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to the diseases that cause inflammation in one or more joints. There are more than 150 different types of arthritis out of which Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis are the most common. In the advanced stages of arthritis, one may experience chronic pain and may not be able to walk or climb stairs.

Common Symptoms of Arthritis:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Restricted joint movement

Common arthritis treatment options:

  • Medicines
  • Non-pharmacological therapy
  • Weight loss
  • Surgery


Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa. Bursa is a soft tissue, a fluid-filled sac-like cavity mostly found over bony prominences like the tip of the elbow, around the hips and knees. It acts as a cushion between a bone and muscle; skin and tendon. This condition generally affects the shoulder, elbow, hips, knees and calf. A person suffering from bursitis often experiences pain, inflammation and tenderness in areas around a joint such as tendons, ligaments, muscles and bursae.

Common Causes of Bursitis:

  • Sports injuries or repetitive movements
  • Bad posture or walking habits
  • Stress on soft tissues due to abnormal or poorly positioned joints
  • Metabolic conditions like diabetes
  • Side effects of certain medications

Common bursitis treatment options:

  • Splints, braces or slings
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Over-the-Counter or Prescription Medicines
  • Corticosteroids Injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between Arthritis and Bursitis are as follows:

Arthritis Bursitis
It is the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. It is the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac-like cavity between the joints that prevents joints from rubbing against each other.
It is associated with degeneration of connective tissue between the bones. It is associated with the irritation of the tissue of the wall of the bursa.
It is associated with the irritation of the tissue of the wall of the bursa. It usually affects the shoulders, elbows, and big toe.
It is mainly caused by age-related wear and tear of cartilage, connective tissues and bone surfaces of the joints. It is generally caused by direct trauma, joint injection, muscle stress, repetitive movements.
Arthritis can occur at any age as it has different types. It generally affects middle-aged people.
The main symptoms include pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in the joints. The main symptoms include pain, warm skin over the bursa, musculature hypotrophy etc.
Common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gout arthritis, reactive arthritis, etc. Common types of bursitis include knee bursitis, elbow bursitis, hip bursitis, shoulder bursitis etc.
Its treatment includes medication, non-pharmacological therapy, weight loss, surgery etc. Its treatment includes removing fluid from the bursa, injection of corticosteroid etc.
A large number of complications can develop in arthritis. Chances of developing complications are less in bursitis.
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