Diagnosing bursitis 

Your GP will usually be able to diagnose bursitis by examining the affected body part and asking about your symptoms.

You may be asked whether you have recently fallen on the joint, or whether you have a job or hobby that involves repetitively using the affected area of your body.

Fluid sample

If you have a fever – a temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above – you may have a small sample of fluid taken from the affected bursa.

The fluid is removed using a needle during a procedure known as aspiration. The sample is then sent to a laboratory to be tested for bacteria, which indicates a bacterial infection (septic bursitis). The sample may also be checked for crystals, which can develop because of conditions such as gout

Following aspiration, a dressing is placed over the area and you will need to avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days.

Further testing

Further tests are usually only required if your symptoms do not respond to treatment. If this is the case, it will be necessary to rule out other conditions that may be responsible for your symptoms.

Further tests may include:


Page last reviewed: 10/12/2014

Next review due: 10/12/2016