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Natural Remedies for Bursitis

Marye Audet
Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN

Bursitis is a painful condition that can require pain relieving medications, rest, and even steroid injections. Natural remedies can be substituted for prescription pain relievers in many cases, allowing you to be pain free without impairing your ability to carry out daily activities.

What Is Bursitis?

Cedars-Sinai Hospital describes Bursitis as an inflammation or irritation which affects the joints in the body. It is a painful condition that is usually a result of a repetitive motion over a long period of time.

This painful condition is found in the various joints of the body, most often in the following:

  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Knee
  • Heel
  • Hip

The bursae are fluid filled sacs located between the bone and the muscles, tendons, or skin. They help the parts of the body glide smoothly during movement as well as helping to protect muscles, ligaments, tendons, and skin. When there is too much friction the bursae become inflamed and painful. Sometimes the fluid can become infected.

Symptoms of Bursitis

Symptoms of bursitis are usually easy to recognize. There will be paint and stiffness in the joints that actually gets worse with movement. The pain worsens at night. The problem may come and go for many years or become ongoing.

Natural Remedies for Bursitis Include a Wide Choice of Treatments

Bursitis is a condition which the sufferer can endure for many years. It is not always desirable, nor advisable to take pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications for long periods of time. The use of natural remedies is therefore becoming a popular way to cope with the condition as most of them can be used without long term undesirable effects being an issue.


There are several herbal equivalents to aspirin that contain a form of salicylate, an important ingredient in aspirin.

  • White willow
  • Boswellia
  • Turmeric
  • Wintergreen, used topically
  • Cayenne, used topically

It is important to note that, due to their aspirin-like effects, anyone who is allergic, on blood thinners, or intolerant to aspirin should avoid the use of these herbs.

University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests bromelain, found in pineapples, to help relieve bursitis.


Using compresses on the painful area is often effective against the pain of bursitis.

  • Hot and cold therapy: Alternating both a hot and cold compress directly on the affected joint for approximately ten minutes each is believed to relieve the pain caused by bursitis when in the acute phase.
  • Castor oil compress: According to Tropical Rainforest Resources, applying an abundant measure of castor oil directly to the joint, followed by the application of a hot compress, is an effective way of applying a lubricant directly to the joint. This will assist mobility of the joint, which when inflamed can be significantly reduced.
  • Ginger poultice: Ginger has been used for centuries as a natural anti-inflammatory. A poultice made from crushed or ground root ginger can be applied directly to the skin. Taking ginger internally as a tea or crystallized to eat can also be beneficial if taken regularly.
  • Apple cider vinegar compress: Apple cider vinegar is a commonly used remedy for many ailments. For the treatment of bursitis it is best made into a compress using one cup of apple cider mixed with one teaspoon of cayenne pepper. This liquid must then be boiled and applied directly to the affected joint once cool. It is crucial not to apply this mixture where there is an area of broken skin.

Homeopathic Remedies

Natural remedies to treat bursitis do not stop at using herbal and externally based treatments. Homeopathy has been used successfully for many years to treat inflammatory conditions, therefore its use for the treatment of bursitis is one which has been successfully tried and tested.

When choosing a homeopathic remedy it is advisable to select the treatment which best suits the symptoms you are experiencing at the time. Given the wide range of treatments, and the varying types and degrees of symptoms associated with bursitis, it is best to seek help from a qualified and experienced homeopathic practitioner.

University of Michigan Medicine suggests several homeopathic remedies, including:

  • Arnica montana: This remedy is especially useful when bursitis is related to traumatic injury or strain. It is often related with time when the person suffering is unable to tolerate contact to the joint because of the severity of pain.
  • Bryonia: Best used at the time when the affected joint is markedly hot and swollen. The sufferer is likely to be intolerant of the slightest movement.
  • Ruta graveolens: If bursitis is acute with the presence of swelling this remedy may be indicated. The sufferer is likely to have an exacerbation of symptoms when exposed to cold or damp environments. Bursitis caused by injury responds well to this treatment.
  • Rhus tox: This remedy is recommended when a person experiences joint pain and stiffness when trying to sleep, or when getting out of bed in the morning. Bursitis is commonly worse in damp and cold weather conditions. The person usually gains relief from warm environments.
  • Belladonna: Bursitis accompanied by symptoms of heat and throbbing suggests a need for this remedy. The affected area is commonly visibly red and inflamed.

Other Treatments for Bursitis

Herbal and homeopathic remedies are the most common natural choice for the treatment of bursitis. However because of the variety of symptoms the condition causes, combined therapy is often effective. University Orthopedics lists a variety of alternative therapies for bursitis, including.

  • Accupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Dietary
  • Reflexology
  • Massage

Always Talk to Your Health Care Provider

Bursitis is a serious and painful medical condition, particularly if made worse by receiving the wrong treatment. It is important that you check with your health care provider before you begin a regimen of natural remedies. This will ensure that you are suffering from bursitis and not some other condition, as well as ruling out drug interactions with other medications that you are currently taking. Herbal remedies for this condition are not FDA approved. Some may cause skin irritation. Please talk to your doctor about any questions you may have. Bursitis is painful to live with but with rest and the proper remedies the symptoms can be relieved significantly.

Natural Remedies for Bursitis