What Are The Differences Between Bursitis, Arthritis & Tendonitis? 

 September 29, 2022

By  Linda Rook

Achilles Tendon


When you have painful joints, it could be a sign of arthritis, bursitis or tendonitis. Arthritis, bursitis or tendonitis all interfere with the ability to your day-to-day activities. They all cause pain and swelling of the joints, but there are differences in the various source of pain and their treatment.

Osteoarthritis is a pain and inflammation of the joints that develops through wear and tear through ageing or an injury.

Bursitis develops when the bursa (tiny sac) stops preventing tissues and joints from rubbing together, causing inflammation.

Tendonitis causes the tendons that attach the muscles to the bone to become inflamed and painful through joint overuse.

In this blog I shall delve into the difference in arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis.

What is arthritis?

In a healthy joint, there are cartilages that surround the joint and prevent the two bones from rubbing together. If this cartilage wears down, you will develop pain, swelling and inflammation. As a result, people develop arthritis over time. The common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis; the symptom can be mild pain or ache to sharp pain, which commonly occurs in the spine, knee, hips or shoulders.

Other types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, attack the immune system and develop in the joint lining.

Another type is gout, an inflammation often caused by swelling and pain in the joints, commonly in the big toe.

Osteoarthritis of the knee

Arthritis - Diagnosis and Treatments.

When you are diagnosed with arthritis, your doctor may examine you and send you for an x-ray to see if you have joint damage. The x-ray will also help to find the cause and the severity of the pain and condition; this will help determine which treatment action to take.

The discomfort can help by anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroid injections, and they may send you for some physical therapy. If your pain is significantly causing your quality of life, then you may benefit from having a joint replacement surgery.

But, this may not work as I have had a right hip replacement that has left me with my right leg longer than the other, so now I have a wonky spine causing me terrible pain in my back with a block on my left shoe.

What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a painful swelling in a small sac full of fluid called a bursa. These sacs help cushion parts of the joint where bones would rub on your muscles, tendons or skin.

You have over 150 bursae, plural for bursa, in your body. Bursitis develops in joints that you often use and put a lot of pressure on, such as:

  • Subacromial bursitis – shoulder.
  • Olecranon bursitis – elbow.
  • Prepatellar bursitis – knee.
  • Your feet have different names, it depends on the area of the foot, such as the big toe, which is the common area, or you could develop it in your heel or ball of the foot.
  • Trochanteric bursitis – hip.
  • Ischial bursitis – buttocks or another name weaver’s bottom.
Bursitis physio

The bursa is a tiny sac that is a cushion between tissue and joints. When it develops inflammation, it could be painful, especially in your elbows, hips or shoulders. As well as the pain, bursitis can cause stiffness and swelling, like arthritis.

Bursitis - Diagnose and treatment.

Bursitis usually is temporary pain, but it can linger or get worse. Your doctor can diagnose this by using an x-ray. Most people feel relief from the pain with non-surgical treatments, with a cortisone shot to the area and physical therapy.

What is tendonitis?

Your tendons are elastic tissues that are connected from your muscles to your bones in the joint.

Tendonitis results from the tendons being inflamed through too many repetitive actions and injury or ageing.

Tendonitis – Diagnosing and Treatment.

Tendonitis is hard to see on an x-ray or other imaging tests. But an orthopaedic specialist can detect tendonitis by asking the patient questions, doing a clinical examination and looking at their medical history.

The treatment could be non-surgical with just rest; over time, tendonitis will resolve itself. But if the pain goes longer than six months, you may have surgery.

Home Treatment.

You can generally treat tendonitis and bursitis at home with an ice pack, rest and over-the-counter medication like NAIDS such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Also, avoiding the motions that started the pain would be best.

When you have done the above home treatment for four to six weeks, and the pain is still there, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

Your doctor can start you on physiotherapy, which can help to ease the symptoms and also it will help to strengthen the joint(s).

Remedies of arthritis bursitis and tendonitis.


There are over 100 different types of arthritis which is a degenerative disease. The two main ones are osteoarthritis which is wear and tear of the joint, and rheumatoid arthritis, which attacks the healthy immune system and healthy joint tissue.

The home remedies for arthritis are as follows:

Managing your weight – if you are overweight, you are putting extra pressure on your weight-bearing joints, hips, knees and feet.

It would help if you went on a nutritious diet.

Arthritis of the knuckles
  • Diet - I have studied the best diets for arthritis, and I have found the Mediterranean and the dash diets. Also, when you lose weight, you can improve your mobility, decrease joint pain and help to prevent further damage to the joints.
  • Exercise – I know this is difficult as you are already in pain, but you should do exercises every day. It will help manage your weight, keep the joints flexible and strengthen your muscles around the joints. The exercises that you should do are low-impact exercises like: Walking or cycling. Swimming or tai chi.
  • Therapy – if you are having a bad day with your pains and inflammation, you could use a heat pack, warm shower, or bath. The heat will calm down the pain and inflammation.  A cold pack helps with swelling and inflammation; you can use a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen food. But never put the ice pack against your skin. Instead, always wrap a towel around the pack first.
  • Capsaicin - comes from chilli peppers that you can buy over the counter in an ointment or cream form. Capsaicin provides warmth and soothes joint pain.
  • Meditation – if you do meditation and relaxation methods, it can reduce the pain that you get with arthritis by reducing the stress and helping you to cope better. It has been found that reducing your stress will help with lowering inflammation and pain. Relaxation can also help with other symptoms of arthritis-like anxiety and depression.
  • Healthy eating – when you have arthritis, there are some foods that can make the symptoms worse. You should go on a fruit and vegetable diet with whole foods, which helps increase your immune system if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
Processed Meat.

It would help if you also had a plant-based diet as it has antioxidants which reduce inflammation.

The following foods can aggravate the inflammation of arthritis; and makes it worse.  Therefore, avoid the following foods: red meat, processed foods, saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. These food groups can also contribute to obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and much more.


Bursitis can be painful. The following shortlist is remedies that can help you with the discomfort of the pain.

  • Rest – you should rest, discontinue any activities, and avoid movements that can worsen the pain.
  • Pain relievers – some over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, can relieve the pain.
  • Heat therapy – you should apply a heat pack to your affected joint for 20 minutes throughout the day until your pain improves.
  • Cold therapy – you can use ice packs on your joints to reduce the swelling, but never put ice cold items straight onto your skin; always wrap the bag in a towel first.
  • Elevate – if you have arthritis in the knee, you should elevate the knee by putting the leg on a pillow; this will reduce the swelling.


Tendonitis and bursitis are similar as they are complicated conditions that affect anybody.  The pain could be sudden or can be gradual over time.

The remedies that you can do to ease the pain and discomfort are the following:

  • Acupuncture – this Chinese medicine has shown that it helps to reduce the pain of tendonitis, especially tennis elbow pain but only for a short time, but studies show that it has long-term relief.
  • Massage – this type of massage is called transverse friction massage.   This massage uses stroke action that is deep and is applied to the affected area and is stroked in a perpendicular direction of the tendon. It has been seen to help reduce pain and improve blood flow to the surrounding area.

Herbs can help with all sorts of diseases, such as the three shown here. In addition, herbs can help with pain and inflammation. You could buy white willow herbs for pain relief and help with inflammation.  Curcumin in turmeric is good for its healing effects.

Boswellia has acid in the herbal extract, which has anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Bromelain is found in pineapples and is an enzyme which helps inflammation.

BUT Herbal supplements can interfere with other medication you are taking. Also, the herbs may not be suitable for some people with various health conditions.



Arthritis is a debilitation disease that cannot be cured, as it is wearing away of the joints, it happens when you get old, or if you have had an injury on the joint.  The best way to help yourself to get through the day is to eat a healthy diet and exercises daily.

Bursitis is another painful and inflamed disease that stops the bursa (a tiny sac) that stops preventing the tissue of the joint from rubbing together.

Tendonitis is a disease of the tendons which attach the muscles to the bones of the joints.  It happens if you over work the joint.  

Overall, you need to rest but also do some low-impact exercises, like swimming or walking the dog more.  If you are thinking about going on herbs/spices or supplements, you first need to see your doctor.

I am not a medical professional and this blog is for information only.  If you have any worries it is best if you see your doctor.

I hope this blog has helped you.

Linda Rook

Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 

Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.

Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.

related posts:

Natural Ways To Decrease Inflammation.

What Supplements Are Good For Arthritis?

Coping With Pregnancy and Chronic Illness.

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