Bursa Injection

A bursa is a soft, fluid-filled pad that rests on some bones, muscles or tendons. You have many bursae in your body, including in the:

  • Elbows
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Feet
  • Shoulders

The bursa cushions the bones. It allows the muscles and tendons to move over them without friction.

Sometimes, a bursa can become inflamed. This is called bursitis. Bursitis is common. Common causes of bursitis are injury, arthritis and overuse.

Bursitis can cause pain, swelling or even stiffness around the affected area. A bursa injection may help reduce inflammation and pain.

You will have this procedure in the Northwestern Medicine Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine Clinic.

What to Expect During a Bursa Injection

During the procedure:

  • You will most likely lie flat on a procedure table.
  • Your physician will use a very fine needle to inject a small amount of local anesthetic into the skin over the bursa. This can help reduce discomfort during the procedure.
  • They will then insert a different needle into the bursa. They may use X-ray or ultrasound if needed for guidance.
  • Once they place the needle into the bursa, they will inject a small amount of numbing medicine (local anesthetic) and a steroid.

You will likely be able to drive yourself home after the procedure. You can return to normal activity the next day.

You may have pain relief almost immediately from the local anesthetic, but this may not last very long. The longer-term relief will come from the steroid, which can take several days to take effect.