Bursa injections contain steroids that soothe bursitis inflammation and joint pain. The steroid injection eases symptoms of hip bursitis, shoulder bursitis and other types of bursitis. If injections don’t relieve symptoms, you may need surgery.
The injection is combined with anesthetic to reach a larger area and provide some pain relief until the steroid has time to take effect.
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Bursae (bur-SEE) are part of the skeletal system. They allow tendons, muscle and bone to move together without friction.
Repetitive use, accidents and injuries can lead to irritation of the bursae. Over time, fluid builds up in the sacs. When bursae swell, there’s less room for joints and connective tissue to move. This creates friction and pain in the joint.
There are 160 bursae in the body. Bursitis can affect any of them, although inflammation most commonly occurs in joints that get a lot of repetitive use. Steroid injections treat:
A bursa injection is a relatively quick procedure that often takes less than 10 minutes. You’ll get the injection at your healthcare provider’s office and go home soon after. Your provider may use ultrasound technology to guide the procedure for certain injection sites like the hip, knee or shoulder.
During a bursa injection, your provider:
You may feel some pressure or discomfort while receiving the injection. If you are getting treatment to more than one bursa, your provider will repeat the steps using a new, sterilized needle for each injection.
The types of side effects or complications vary depending on where you receive the bursa injection. Overall, bursa injections are a safe treatment for bursitis pain.
You may experience discomfort, bruising or swelling in the joint for a day or two after the injection. There’s also a slight risk of infection.
Other potential side effects include:
Steroid injections can raise your blood pressure and blood sugar levels for one to two days. If you have diabetes, please make sure that you have a plan with you caregiver to address that complication. Sometimes patients might require additional medications. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you may need to watch that condition more closely for a few days after the injection.
If the injection had an anesthetic, you should get some pain relief that lasts for a couple of hours. After that, it can take a few days for the steroid to work and the swelling to go down.
Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for recovery. You may need to:
Symptom relief varies depending on the affected joint. Bursa injections can reduce pain and inflammation for several months or up to one year.
Some people get permanent symptom relief with one treatment. If you continue activities that irritate the joint, bursitis symptoms may return faster.
The frequency of injections depends on the treatment area, symptoms and dosage amount.
You typically need to wait at least three months between injections according to the treatment condition. This is because too many injections can damage the bursa, joint and connective tissue.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Bursa injections are an effective treatment for bursitis pain and inflammation. They are commonly combined with rehabilitation, depending on the body area. Generally, one injection can decrease your pain significantly. However, to keep bursitis from recurring, it’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s advice. You may need to limit activities that irritate the joint or wear a supportive brace or sling. Stretching and strengthening exercises may also help. If your symptoms reoccurred after your joint injection, please discuss them with your healthcare provider. Commonly, inflammation also involves the tendon because it’s close to the bursa in several joints. Your provider may recommend other therapies or surgery if injections haven’t been successful.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/21/2021.
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