Differences Between Arthritis And Bursitis That May Surprise You

August 7, 2023
ArthritisJoint Pain
by Kolton Opdahl

Do you know the differences between Arthritis and Bursitis? You may have heard of these common conditions. Although they have similar attributes, the conditions are separate from each other. This blog will help you differentiate arthritis and bursitis. However, if you aren’t sure what’s causing your pain, make sure you consult your doctor or a medical professional.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a painful condition involving inflammation and stiffness of the joints that gradually worsens over time. Generally, there are more than one affected joint in the body. The most popular joints affected are in the wrists, hands, knees. Arthritis comes in many different forms, but the most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis refers to the “wear and tear” of joints over time. It is more common in older people. If there is any history of joint problems and / or inflicted trauma upon the affected area, then it can increase the risk of developing this condition.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease occuring when the body attacks it’s own healthy cells. This in turn causes inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joints; particularily multiple at once. Although it can happen at any age, rheumatoid arthritis tends to develop in people aged between 30-50.

differences between arthritis and bursitis

What is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a condition in which fluid-filled sacs within the joints become inflamed. This occurs due to overuse or underlying inflammatory conditions. For instance, repetitive motions and/or putting pressure on specific joints can increase the risk of developing bursitis. Sometimes, an infection or unexpected injury can cause the condition as well.

What are the Similarities Between Arthritis and Bursitis?

Both conditions have similar symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Pain & Aching
  • Tenderness when touched
  • Redness
  • Reduced Range of Motion
  • Stiffness

Both conditions can affect the same joints:

  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Wrists
  • Neck
  • Feet

What are the Differences Between Arthritis and Bursitis?


  • Symptoms worsen over time
  • Most common in knees, hips, and small joints
  • Pain is worse in the morning
  • Usually results gradually (wear and tear)
  • Irreversible joint damage


  • Symptoms are temporary
  • Most common in shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees
  • Pain is worse at night
  • Usually results from overuse or trauma
  • Inflammation generally improves with treatment
differences between arthritis and bursitis

Even though most types of arthritis cannot be cured, there’s still ways to reduce symptoms. Now that you understand the differences between arthritis and bursitis, perhaps you will have better judgement about how to treat your pain. However, don’t rely on your knowledge alone. Meet with your doctor to recieve an accurate diagnoses of your condition, and create a plan with them on how to improve it.


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