As we flutter around our homes on the weekend, cleaning up our family’s messes, both physical and logistical, we all hope to move with the grace of a gazelle or beautiful ghost taken from the world too soon.
That’s more of a creepy ghost, taken at just the right time.
If we can hear our joints and bones as we walk down the street, climbs the stairs, or try to hide from our noisy neighbor Suzanne, we know we’ve got a problem.
As a chiropractor for knee pain, creaky bones rattle into my practice all day. I can hear them coming from blocks away. They come running in, well slowly hobbling really, to get some relief from their bursitis pain.
Bursitis is a condition that causes joint, bone, and muscle pains usually in the knees but also the shoulders, elbows, and hips. Anywhere where there are bursae, which are all over the body.
These fluid-filled sacs are designed to cushion and lubricate the spaces between bones, connective tissue (joints, tendons, and ligaments), and muscles. When irritated or inflamed, it becomes hard to move normally and withstand friction or pressure.
This isn’t a “walk it off” kind of pain, just ask my patients. Bursitis symptoms are similar to rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, frozen shoulder, tendonitis, and gout.
- Joint pain and tenderness in the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or heels
- Discomfort in muscles and bones
- Trouble doing everyday activities like getting dressed, showering, carrying objects, walking, or exercising
- Difficulty sleeping due to pain and discomfort
- Feeling achy and stiff
- Looking swollen, red, or “puffy” in the affected area
Now, these symptoms aren’t necessarily severe or dangerous. No one is going to die because they can’t get dressed without needing to breathe through a little discomfort, though they might want to, but if bursitis goes unaddressed, it can progress to the point of causing complications that will significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life.
What Causes Bursitis?
Unfortunately, age plays a significant role in triggering bursitis. Natural wear and tear and the accumulation of stress, knee injury, and repetitive motion cause all tissue to become less flexible and strong, unable to deal with the stress and impact of everyday life. Bursa can also begin to swell and interfere with the normal function of nearby joints and muscles.
Here are some of the ways my patients have developed bursitis:
- Sports or work-related injuries and trauma
- Car accidents or falls
- Healing from surgery
- Sudden movements that strain muscles or joints
- Overtraining or overuse of the body, especially with improper form
- Poor posture
- Sitting for long periods
- Other inflammatory conditions like arthritis, scoliosis, gout, infections, thyroid disorders, psoriasis, or an autoimmune disorder
- Bone spurs or calcium deposits
- Leg length discrepancy
- High-risk activities like raking, carpentry, shoveling, painting, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing, and pitching
Kneeling over often, scrubbing the floors, bending over to pick things up, gardening, and running are all particularly applicable to knee bursitis.
We shouldn’t be experiencing pain throughout the day; it’s not how we were designed or meant to live. Pain is a sign that something is wrong and needs to be addressed; it is a symptom of an underlying issue. Doctors love to throw painkillers, NSAIDs, antibiotics, or steroid injections at their patients to help them manage the pain.
Great foresight. Our bodies are natural healing miracles, and we can harness that energy for natural knee pain relief rather than stuffing ourselves with synthetic garbage and all its nasty side effects.
Natural Bursitis Treatment
It’s ok to stop and take a break once in a while. We don’t have to do and be everything for everyone. Our bodies can heal, but we need to give them time. Take a break from repetitive exercises or movements that will stress the knees. Rest between workouts and avoid overtraining. Maybe take a week or two to focus on that measly core or ask one of the teenagers in the house to carry the laundry up from the basement. Chances are the only thing that’s wrong with them is their attitudes.
A critical healing period is the first 24-48 hours after an injury or flare-up. During this time, ice is our friend. Because bursitis is usually associated with inflammation of the bursa, using ice to reduce swelling can also help reduce pain. After that initial period, it’s better to put ice in a happy hour cocktail than on swollen knees.
Over-the-counter painkillers can help temporarily relieve bursitis pain, I can’t lie, but relying on this solution for days and weeks can lead to an ibuprofen overdose and other nasty side effects. Essential oils are a great alternative, as well as being somewhat mystical, which is fun.
Peppermint and frankincense oil can be applied directly to the knee to boost circulation, reduce inflammation, and manage pain. Have one of those teenagers use oil during a massage or draw a bath and add the oil directly to the bubbling water.
Exercise may be the last thing someone wants to do when dealing with bursitis pain, but movement helps keep joints limber and preserves mobility. Initially, rest and use ice, but staying active will ultimately reduce stiffness, pain, and inflammation. This will help speed up healing!
Exercise and stretching are critical to aging gracefully and preventing disability and injury. Strong muscles help support the proper structure of our joints so that our body can function as designed.
Posture plays a sneakily significant role in our overall health. Poor posture, whether we’re exercising, standing, sitting, or sleeping, can speed up the wear and tear on our joints. Our body was designed a certain way, and when we fundamentally change that design, it has rippling effects throughout our body.
Sitting is a particularly heinous offender of good posture because some of us are stuck in that position for 8-10 hours a day. If our body starts to carry weight or pressure abnormally, the knees will need to compensate in a way they may not be able to withstand.
The standard American diet is trying to kill us, or at least inflame us – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our hectic, on-the-go, ‘gotta hustle’ mentality doesn’t help cool anything off, either. We are what we eat, so focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet will help reduce inflammation – the source of all disease – not to mention help relieve bursitis, which IS inflammation.
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Grass-fed beef
- Wild-caught fish
- Cage-free eggs
- Coconut and olive oil
In addition to exercise, lowering mental stress, losing weight, not sitting for long periods, quitting smoking, and avoiding unnecessary chemical and toxin exposure are great ways to reduce inflammation. They’re good life policies as well.
There were just under a million knee replacements in 2017 alone. Surgery is necessary when the situation has spun so out of control that there is literally “bone on bone.” Chiropractic care can prevent this from happening.
Chiropractic treatment is a natural, non-invasive, less expensive, much less risky, and just as effective way to reduce knee pain and improve knee function. Chiropractic adjustments to the knee will correct misalignments that cause the joint to wear down faster. Spinal manipulation can help realign and rebalance the body so the knees don’t have to absorb extra pressure.
We also use a custom exercise plan, massage, and decompression to address the root cause of a patient’s knee pain for a lasting positive effect on their knee function rather than just chasing symptoms. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. Stop spending time on the sidelines. It’s time to stand up, run onto the field, and get back in the game!