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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

A bursa is a membrane near a joint that acts as a cushion between the muscle and bone. The bursa reduces friction caused by movement and makes the joint more flexible.

Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. It is a common condition that often happens when a joint is overused, such as when throwing a baseball or painting a wall. More rarely, bursitis can be caused by gout or an infection. Bursitis is more common in people who are overweight, elderly or diabetic, although it also develops in younger, healthy people without a clear reason.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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