What Is Bursitis?
A bursa is a small fluid filled sac that acts to reduce friction within a joint. It prevents tendons and muscles from rubbing against bone and allows for more fluid movements. Bursae are found in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet. Tendons in these areas may become rough and thickened due to overuse, which can cause friction and irritation of the bursa (Figure 1). This results in swelling and inflammation, leading to pain and a decrease in range of motion known as bursitis.
Ergonomic Risk Factors
Forceful exertions (i.e. lifting,
carrying, gripping, etc.)
Awkward postures (ex. kneeling or working with arms above shoulder level)
Extended vibration exposure is linked to abnormal tendon function due to tissue fatigue
Many or all of the risk factors act in synergy to increase the risk of bursitis
Similar muscle actions performed multiple times in a short period
Sustained muscle contractions without enough rest
Specific Recommendations for Prevention
Avoid contact stresses where possible (kneeling, leaning, hand tool grips)
Take regular breaks
For kneeling tasks, use kneeling pads when possible
Avoid above shoulder level work