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Septic Bursitis

Septic bursitis is caused by bacteria entering a bursa either from the bloodstream or from the environment through damaged skin, for example

Symptoms and diagnosis

where abrasions or blisters have occurred. Superficial bursae, around the elbows and knees, are most frequently affected; athletes and soccer players who are likely to suffer dirty abrasions are most vulnerable.Septic bursitis may rarely occur after aspiration.

Septic bursitis is suggested by:
– pronounced pain and tenderness;
– marked swelling and redness of the affected area;
– considerable impairment of function;
– underlying changes in bone, revealed by X-ray, after protracted infection.


When septic bursitis is suspected the athlete or trainer should:
– rest and relieve pressure on the affected area;
– keep damaged skin clean by washing with soap and water;
– consult a doctor as early as possible.

The doctor may:
– treat the underlying cause when bloodstream infection is present;
– possibly apply compression and support for a few days;
– prescribe antibiotics, sometimes intravenous, if there are signs of cellulitis;
– drain the infected bursa;
– resort to surgery if the infection fails to resolve.

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