Pain, tenderness, reduced mobility, swelling, redness, possible fever, and muscle weakness often in the shoulders, elbows, and knees.


What is Bursitis?

From Modern Western Medicine

Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, small fluid-filled sacs that act as shock absorbers between joints and the sites where muscles and tendons join. The swollen bursa rubs against tendons and muscles, causing friction, pain, and additional swelling. Rest usually causes the pain to subside within a few days, as the excess fluid is reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Bursitis is frequently caused by trauma, such as blow to the area, repeated shock, and overuse.


From Traditional Medicine

Traditional medicine recognizes trauma as a secondary cause of bursitis. Trauma, excessive use, or a blow does not have to result in bursitis if the underlying qi, nutrition, and flexibility are healthy. The liver is said to provide qi to the tendons and joints and thus is considered part of the diagnostic picture. Bursitis, therefore, occurs more commonly in people who have stagnation in the joints and liver imbalances.



Foods to Eat

  • Root vegetables, especially carrots, turnips, ginger, and rutabagas (for their immune-boosting properties and because these roots have a strengthening and tonifying effect on the body’s ability to eliminate waste)
  • Leafy, green vegetables (for their immune-boosting properties)
  • Carrot juice (for liver)


Foods to Avoid

  • Nightshades: Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tobacco
  • Vitamin D-fortified foods, such as milk and other dairy products, breakfast cereals, and margarine
  • Potato flour as found in processed foods
  • Paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco


Herbs to Treat Bursitis

  • Comfrey: use as a strong infusion, decoction, or tincture, two or three times daily for 1 to 3 months
  • Burdock root: 1 oz. root to 1 ½ pints water, boiled down to 1 pint, three to four times a day; or as a tincture (30 – 60 drops, three or four times daily)
  • Chaparral: steep 6 oz., 5 to 15 minutes, three times daily; or as a tincture, 10 – 20 drops, three times daily; or as a powder, 2 – 10 capsules (0# capsules, 10 – 60 grains), three times a day


Chinese Medicine

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure: a therapist uses the hands in place of needles to stimulate points and deeply massage tissues



Use bryony for pain with motion. Dose: tincture, 5 drops, two or three times per day, or use as homeopathic dilution.


  • Apply an ice pack to the troubled joint to reduce swelling. Leave it on for 10 minutes, several times a day.
  • After swelling has disappeared, apply hot towels. Heat will increase circulation.
  • Ginger bath: make a bath full of hot water with 1/3rd being ginger tea. Smaller quantities may be made to soak the affected part.



  • Vitamin A: 400 IU per day
  • Vitamin B complex: 50 mg per day
  • Vitamin B12: 2 – 10 mcg, 1 time a week
  • Vitamin C: 100 mg per day
  • Vitamin E: 400 IU per day



  • Touch your elbows. Clasp your hands behind your head. Bring your elbows together in front of your face, as close as possible to one another. Then separate them as widely as you can. Repeat, gradually working up to 10 repetitions. Do not try to do 10 repetitions on the first few attempts, especially if pain is severe.
  • Reach out. Stretch one arm straight out in front of you. Lock your elbow, and raise your arm directly over your head so that your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling. Lower the arm. Do 5 to 10 repetitions for each arm.
  • Rotate your arms. Stretch one arm out from your sides so that it is parallel to the floor. Now rotate that arm in small circles forward, then reverse. Work your way up from 5 to 10 circles, then 20, in both directions. Repeat with the other arm.
  • Reach for the stars. Raise your arms above and behind your head as far as possible. Do not force them; just try to gradually improve the distance you can reach backward. Do 5, 10, and then 20 repetitions.
  • Roll your shoulders. Raise your shoulders toward your ears. Then, roll them back so your chest sticks out. Next, roll them down, then forward and up. Work your way from 5 repetitions to 10, then 20.
  • Do shoulder touches. Extend your shoulders with your hand by bending at the elbow and bringing your hand back to the top of your shoulders. Work your way up from 5 repetitions to 10, then 20. Repeat with the other arm.
  • Lift your leg. While laying on a firm mat or a bed, lift one leg, knee bent, and bring it toward your chest. You can use your hands to grab hold behind your thigh. Do 5, 10, or 20 repetitions per leg.
  • Yoga



  • Peanut oil massage to entire area
  • Green cabbage poultice; apply nightly