Bursa Injections

What is a Bursa Injection?

A bursa injection, commonly used for bursitis, involves the targeted delivery of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic into the inflamed bursa, those small sacs that cushion joints. This outpatient procedure, often guided by ultrasound or fluoroscopy for precision, swiftly diminishes swelling and discomfort. By promoting a reduction in inflammation, the injection facilitates improved joint movement and functionality, offering individuals a rapid and effective solution for managing bursitis-related symptoms.

Bursa Injections

During a bursa injection procedure, the patient is positioned comfortably, and the skin overlying the affected joint is sterilized. The healthcare provider may use ultrasound or fluoroscopy to precisely locate the inflamed bursa. A local anesthetic is then administered to numb the injection site, ensuring minimal discomfort. Following this, a corticosteroid medication, often mixed with the anesthetic, is carefully injected into the targeted bursa. The corticosteroid works to swiftly reduce inflammation, while the anesthetic provides immediate pain relief. The entire process is typically quick and performed in an outpatient setting, allowing individuals to resume their regular activities shortly after the procedure. Post-injection, patients may be advised to rest the treated joint for a short period, and they often experience relief from pain and improved mobility in the following days.

While bursa injections are generally considered safe and well-tolerated, they are not without potential risks. Some common risks and side effects associated with bursa injections include:

  1. Pain or Discomfort: Mild pain or discomfort at the injection site is common, but it is usually temporary.

  2. Infection: There is a risk of infection at the injection site. Healthcare providers take precautions to minimize this risk, such as using sterile techniques during the procedure.

  3. Bleeding: Some bruising or bleeding at the injection site may occur, particularly if the patient is taking blood-thinning medications.

  4. Allergic Reaction: While rare, allergic reactions to the injected medications can occur. It’s important to inform the healthcare provider of any known allergies before the procedure.

  5. Temporary Flare-Up of Symptoms: In some cases, the injected area may experience a temporary increase in pain and inflammation before the corticosteroid takes full effect.

  6. Skin Changes: Skin atrophy or changes in pigmentation at the injection site are possible, especially with repeated injections.

  7. Tendon Rupture: In rare instances, repeated corticosteroid injections into the same joint may contribute to tendon weakening and an increased risk of rupture.

It’s crucial for individuals considering bursa injections to discuss potential risks and benefits with their healthcare provider. The decision to undergo this procedure should be based on a thorough evaluation of the individual’s medical history, the specific condition being treated, and the potential benefits of the injection in alleviating symptoms.


If bursa injections do not provide the expected relief or if the improvement is only temporary, healthcare providers may consider alternative treatment options. The effectiveness of bursa injections can vary from person to person, and factors such as the underlying cause of bursitis, the individual’s overall health, and the specific characteristics of the condition can influence the outcome.

Some potential steps or alternatives that may be considered if bursa injections are not successful include:

  1. Reevaluation of Diagnosis: The healthcare provider may reassess the diagnosis to ensure that the correct cause of symptoms is being addressed.

  2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can be beneficial for improving joint mobility, strengthening muscles, and addressing underlying biomechanical issues contributing to bursitis.

  3. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Oral NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.

  4. Rest and Activity Modification: Adjusting activities and incorporating periods of rest can help reduce stress on the affected joint and promote healing.

  5. Corticosteroid Injections with Caution: If the initial bursa injection was not effective, a healthcare provider may consider a repeat injection or explore alternative injection techniques.

  6. Surgical Intervention: In some cases, particularly if conservative measures are ineffective, surgical intervention may be recommended to address the underlying cause of bursitis or to remove the inflamed bursa.

It’s essential for individuals experiencing persistent symptoms or dissatisfaction with the results of bursa injections to communicate openly with their healthcare provider. This allows for a comprehensive assessment of the situation and the development of an appropriate, personalized treatment plan based on the individual’s specific needs and circumstances.

After receiving sacroiliac (SI) joint injections, it is typically recommended to follow specific guidelines to optimize recovery and minimize potential complications. While these recommendations may vary among healthcare providers, common guidelines include:

  1. Avoid Strenuous Activities: Refrain from engaging in strenuous activities, heavy lifting, or intense exercise for a specified period after the injection. This helps prevent strain on the SI joint and promotes healing.

  2. Limit Driving: Some healthcare providers advise patients to avoid driving for a brief period after the injection, as the local anesthetic used during the procedure may temporarily affect coordination and reaction time.

  3. Observe Rest: Allow yourself some rest on the day of the injection. While complete bed rest may not be necessary, avoiding excessive physical activity can help minimize stress on the treated area.

  4. Apply Ice or Heat: Applying ice or heat to the injection site may help reduce swelling and alleviate any discomfort. Your healthcare provider may provide specific recommendations regarding the use of ice or heat.

  5. Follow Up Care: Attend any scheduled follow-up appointments as recommended by your healthcare provider. This allows them to assess your response to the injection and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

  6. Monitor for Side Effects: Be vigilant for any signs of infection at the injection site, such as increased redness, swelling, or persistent pain. If you experience unusual or severe side effects, contact your healthcare provider promptly.

It’s crucial to note that individual recommendations may vary, and patients should follow the specific instructions provided by their healthcare provider. Additionally, healthcare providers may provide guidance on when it’s safe to resume normal activities based on the individual’s response to the SI joint injections. If there are uncertainties or questions about post-injection care, it’s always advisable to consult directly with the healthcare professional who performed the procedure.