Whether you work out on a regular basis, are a weekend warrior, or have just gone a little too far with home activities you know that overdoing it can lead to unhappiness. Activities that are repetitive or too intense can cause minor tears and strains which cause pain that can slow you down. If you've ever mentioned you had an achy joint, you may have heard the term tendonitis or bursitis. Is this really what you have? And more importantly, how do you get rid of it?

Birth of Bursitis and Tendonitis

Tendons and bursae help support movement at your joints. Bursa are fluid filled sacs that help your tendons glide over bony areas of your joints. Tendons are connective tissues that bind muscles to bones. When these structures become injured, they can make joint movement painful. Overuse or stress injuries can easily cause the following injuries:

  • Bursitis—swelling and irritation of the bursa
  • Tendinopathy—problems in the tendon including
    • Tendonitis—swelling and irritation of the tendon
    • Tendinosis—chronic tearing of the tendon

These injuries may be caused by something as simple as housecleaning or your everyday job, to something more complex like sports. It may also be caused by an imbalance in the muscles around your joint. It may be difficult to tell if the problems is with the tendon or bursa.

The pain may not always be due to an obvious injury. It may slowly develop or intensify over time. It is important to know your body to help distinguish between normal soreness from some workouts and soreness that indicates a problem.

Pain is a communication tool. It is the way your brain tells you that you need to pay attention because something is wrong. If you are feeling pain, you need to assess why, especially if the pain continues or recurs often. Ignoring the pain may simply force you to be unnecessarily uncomfortable. It can also lead to long term problems.

Note what activities may be causing the pain. Find ways to change the activity to reduce stress on your joints. Some adaptations that may help include:

  • Check your technique. A small correction in how you do an activity can make a big difference.
  • Lower the intensity. You may have gone too hard, too fast. Lower your intensity level and gradually increase your intensity as you get stronger.
  • Be aware of activites that have repetitve actions.
    • For tasks like shoveling or sweeping, take small breaks to give your joints a break.
    • For sport activites like tennis, check your technique. Allow other types of exercise to give your body a break from the repetitive motions of one sport.

Not all injuries can be prevented. Fortunately most tendon and bursa problems can be relieved with some basic at home care.