Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Bursitis in Children: Care Instructions

Main Content

Bursitis in Children: Care Instructions


A bursa is a small sac of fluid that helps the tissues around a joint slide over one another easily. Injury or overuse of a joint can cause pain, redness, and inflammation in the bursa (bursitis). Bursitis usually gets better if you avoid the activity that caused it. Your child can help prevent bursitis from coming back by doing stretching and strengthening exercises. Your child may also need to change the way they do some activities.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • After 3 days of using ice, you may use heat on the area. You can use a hot water bottle or a warm, moist towel.
  • Have your child rest the painful area. Teach your child to stop any activities that cause pain. Switch to activities that do not stress the area.
  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • To prevent stiffness, teach your child to gently move the joint as much as possible without pain every day. As the pain gets better, have your child keep doing range-of-motion exercises. Ask the doctor for exercises that will make the muscles around the joint stronger. Help your child do these as directed.
  • Your child can slowly return to the activity that caused the pain. But your child should do it with less effort until it causes no pain or swelling. Teach your child to warm up before and stretch after the activity.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter T961 in the search box to learn more about "Bursitis in Children: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.