The Difference Between Arthritis and Bursitis

At first glance, arthritis and bursitis seem similar. They’re two of the most common joint problems. They both involve inflammation, cause joint pain, and affect your ability to use the joint.

Despite these similarities, arthritis and bursitis are more different than alike. They each have a distinct cause. Additionally, the nature of your pain and the impact on your long-term health differ.

Whether you have arthritis or bursitis, the team at our Chandler Pain Management Clinic offer advanced interventional treatments customized to ease your pain and support your optimal health. Here’s a rundown on the differences between arthritis and bursitis.

Body structures affected

Two of the biggest differences are found in how the diseases develop and the body structures affected by each condition:


The two major types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, damage cartilage, bones, and other structures inside the joints.

Osteoarthritis begins when cartilage breaks down. Cartilage normally protects the bones, allowing them to glide past one another as you use the joint. However, cartilage gradually wears away because of daily stress and movement.

Over the years, more cartilage slowly wears away, inflammation develops, and the inflammation erodes the bone under the cartilage.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis starts when your immune system attacks the synovial tissues lining the joint. As a result, the tissues become inflamed. The inflammation gradually erodes the bones and causes joint deformities.


Bursitis affects tiny, fluid-filled sacs (bursa) located around the joint. Bursa are wedged between bones and soft tissues. The little sacs reduce friction between bones as they move and rub against your skin, ligaments, and tendons. When the bursa becomes inflamed, you have bursitis.

Inflammation develops because of:

  • Repetitive use
  • Prolonged pressure on the joint
  • Bone spurs in the joint
  • Trauma to the joint
  • Infections

More than 150 bursae are in your body. Any of them can develop bursitis, but the problem most often affects your knees, shoulders, elbows, and hips.

Symptom differences

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis gradually damage the joint. As a result, you experience a slow but steady increase in pain and joint stiffness over the years. What begins as a slight twinge of discomfort turns into unbearable pain that stops you from using the joint.

Osteoarthritis doesn’t cause visible swelling. By comparison, rheumatoid arthritis often leads to noticeable redness and swelling around the joint.

Bursitis may develop slowly or flare up quickly. Once inflammation takes over the bursa, the condition immediately causes severe pain and limited joint movement. You may also have a noticeable swollen bump, depending on how close the bursa is to the surface.

Sometimes bursitis becomes infected. If that happens, the skin above the bursa looks red and feels warm, and you will probably have a fever.

Osteoarthritis always stays within the joint. Bursitis is always limited to the bursa. Rheumatoid arthritis is different because the inflammation can spread. As a result, you can develop inflammation and symptoms in your skin, eyes, blood vessels, lungs, and throughout their body.

Disease duration

Arthritis is a progressive disease that causes permanent joint damage. Though each person’s osteoarthritis progresses at a different pace, the degeneration can ultimately cause such extensive joint damage that your only treatment option is a joint replacement.

Though rheumatoid arthritis also progresses and causes irreversible damage, we have medications that can keep it in remission. With early treatment, medications can slow down or prevent bone erosion caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Bursitis is a short-term condition. It doesn’t get progressively worse or last until you need a joint replacement. Instead, bursitis responds well to rest and steroid injections that reduce the inflammation.

In most cases, your bursitis improves in a few days or weeks. However, it can recur if you keep stressing the joint with the same activities.

When you need relief from joint pain and supportive care that restores joint mobility, call Apex Pain Specialists, or book an appointment online today.

The Link Between Your Diet and Arthritis

In the fight to ease arthritis pain and slow progressive joint damage, one of your best weapons is your diet. How can food make a difference? By increasing or reducing inflammation.

Controlling inflammation is essential because the extent of your joint inflammation directly affects the severity of your symptoms and how quickly joint damage develops.

At Apex Pain Specialist, we specialize in relieving your symptoms by combining advanced interventional therapies and physical medicine with lifestyle changes.

We wrote this blog to give you the dietary tips needed to start planning anti-inflammatory meals that boost your wellbeing.

Inflammation and arthritis go hand-in-hand

Osteoarthritis is caused by cartilage deterioration and is typically considered a degenerative disease rather than an inflammatory arthritis. But as osteoarthritis causes joint damage, inflammation develops.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes extensive joint inflammation. When the inflammation isn’t controlled, it gradually erodes the bones, causes deformities, and can spread throughout your body.

About 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop inflammatory problems in their eyes, heart, lung, bones, and nerves, to name a few of the body areas most often affected.

Arthritis diet basics

Before learning about the best anti-inflammatory diet, it’s important to know that some types of arthritis have more specific dietary guidelines.

Gout, for example, is more likely to flare up if you eat organ meats like liver, red meat, shellfish, sardines, or anchovies. Your rheumatologist will let you know if your arthritis needs a special diet.

For all types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, your diet basics come down to two steps. First, you should plan meals that are packed with anti-inflammatory foods, and then you need to limit foods that cause inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory foods for arthritis

An anti-inflammatory diet essentially follows a healthy, balanced meal plan like the Mediterranean diet or the DASH eating plan. Both diets incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, and lean protein.

To get you started, we created these lists of the top inflammation-fighting foods:


Fruits are packed with essential nutrients and fiber, as well as potent anti-inflammatory agents such as antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Plants naturally contain substances called phytonutrients that have a direct impact on your health. They actively reduce inflammation, boost cellular communication, and prevent cancer, to give you a few examples.

Some of the best fruit choices include:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Grapefruit
  • Pomegranates
  • Pineapples

The US Department of Agriculture recommends that adult women and men get about one to two cups of fruits daily.


Like fruits, vegetables are rich sources of nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. They also have their own unique phytonutrients. Some of the best choices for fighting inflammation include:

  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)

As part of your overall diet, adult women should aim to eat two to three cups of vegetables daily, while men need three to four cups.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have a powerful ability to reduce inflammation. The top sources are cold water fish, including:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Cod
  • Lake trout
  • Canned, light tuna

When choosing other types of fats, go with unsaturated fats such as olive, peanut, canola, and sunflower oils. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Inflammatory foods to avoid

To ensure your diet doesn’t increase inflammation, you should limit:

  • Refined carbs (white bread, white rice, and white flour)
  • Sweets
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat
  • Processed meat
  • Sugar-sweetened and high-fructose beverages

When you still have pain and limited movement despite following an anti-inflammatory diet and exercising, we can help with comprehensive arthritis management. Call Chandler Pain Managementor request an appointment online to learn more about our individualized care.

Pain relieving benefits of Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) Native to southern Africa, gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria. It has also been used in ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems around the world.

Devil’s claw was introduced to Europe in the early 1900s, where the dried roots have been used to restore appetite, relieve heartburn, and reduce pain and inflammation.

Today, devil’s claw is used widely in Germany and France to fight inflammation or relieve arthritis pain, headache, and low back pain.

Medicinal Uses and Indications


Several studies show that taking devil’s claw for 8 to 12 weeks can reduce pain and improve physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis. One 4-month study of 122 people with knee and hip osteoarthritis compared devil’s claw and a leading European medication for pain relief. The people who took devil’s claw had as much pain relief as the people who took the medication. Those who took devil’s claw had fewer side effects and needed fewer pain relievers throughout the study.

An analysis of 14 studies using devil’s claw to treat arthritis found that higher quality studies showed devil’s claw may relieve joint pain. And a review of 12 studies using devil’s claw for treating arthritis or low back pain found that devil’s claw was at least moderately effective for arthritis of the spine, hip, and knee.


Back and neck pain

Preliminary evidence suggests that devil’s claw may help relieve neck and low back pain. In a small study of 63 people with mild-to-moderate back, neck, or shoulder pain, taking a standardized extract of devil’s claw for 4 weeks provided moderate relief from muscle pain. In a larger study of 197 men and women with chronic low back pain, those who took devil’s claw every day for a month said they had less pain and needed fewer painkillers than those who took placebo.

A 54-week study compared 38 people who took devil’s claw with 35 people who took the pain reliever rofecoxib (Vioxx). For these people, devil’s claw worked as well as Vioxx to relieve pain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took Vioxx off the market because it increases the risk of heart problems.


Other uses

Many professional herbalists suggest that devil’s claw can help treat upset stomach, loss of appetite, headaches, allergies, and fever. Topical preparations of devil’s claw are also applied to the skin to heal sores, ulcers, boils, and skin lesions. However, there are not any definitive scientific studies that show using devil’s claw to treat these conditions is effective.


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach for strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can have side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

If taken at the recommended dose for a short time, health practitioners consider devil’s claw non-toxic and safe, with few side effects. High doses can cause mild stomach problems in some people. Researchers do not know if it would be safe to take devil’s claw for a long time.

People with stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or gallstones should not take devil’s claw. Studies show taking devil’s claw may vause gastrointestinal side effects.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take devil’s claw since studies in these populations are lacking.

People with heart disease, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure should ask their doctors before taking devil’s claw.


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5 natural alternatives to painkillers

When you experience chronic pain, you may try just about any remedy that will lessen the debilitating physical pain. Multiple trips to the health store will fill your cupboards with bottles of supplements thinking that you will avoid more trips to your pain management doctor. 

Did you know that more than 1 in 10 adults suffer from some form of  chronic pain. To get through the day, many resort to taking painkillers – some of which are powerful drugs that interfere with the nerve signals responsible for perceiving pain. Surprisingly, in 2015, more adults used prescription painkillers than tobacco, cigars and cigarettes combined.

Painkillers powerful strength

Painkillers vary in strength for different levels of pain. For example the prescription fentanyl – an opioid – is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. In addition, drug morphine is up to 360 times more powerful than aspirin (acetaminophen ).

Opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 U.S. deaths in 2016, more than any previous year on record. An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. In most recent years, opioid addiction has resulted in a deadly drug epidemic in both Canada and the U.S. Currently, Canada ranks as the world’s second largest consumer of prescription opioids.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 4.6% in 2019 to 70,980, including 50,042 involving opioids, according to preliminary data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data last week that suggests U.S. drug overdose deaths have fallen for the first time in 20 years. There were an estimated 68,557 deaths from overdoses in the U.S. in 2018 copared to a preliminary figure of 72,224 in 2017. The 5.6% decline marks the first drop in overdose deaths since 1999.

5 pain management options

Many pain sufferers use painkillers shows an urgent need for effective and safe alternatives for managing chronic pain. Fortunately, several natural alternatives exist and may help control daily pain. Below are some pain management options that can be incorporated into your lifestyle:

  1. Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an integrative health modality that applies Traditional Chinese Medicine. Licensed practitioners insert very thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain for many health conditions.
  2. Change your diet. It may sound questionable, but what you eat has a significant influence on your pain levels. Inflammatory foods high in arachidonic acid such as red meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal fats should be on your radar. – These foods release of a variety of  substances in the body that produce pain or inflammation – Try to eat foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, like avocados, nuts and seeds, chia, and green leafy vegetables, all of which have been found to help lower inflammation.
  3. Exercises. Studies have found that people who exercise daily are able to better manage their pain than those who don’t. And, keeping the weight off by regularly exercising can relieve pressure on the joints.
  4. Get symptomatic relief. The root of Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) contains powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and has traditionally been used for joint and muscle pain of all types.
  5. De-stress. Chronic stress leads to inflammation in the body, which can contribute to pain, and vice versa. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, tai-chi, and breathing exercises may help reduce stress and pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain or find yourself taking painkillers, it is important to work with your primary healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that works best for your pain.


Arthritis Related Joint Pain