Anatomy word of the month: bursa

January 1, 2011 —

A bursa, latin for a little bag or purse, is a closed fluid-filled sack that is typically found in places where a tendon crosses a bone or a muscle comes in contact with bone. It acts as a shock absorber and protection against friction damage to tendons, primarily. They are found in and around our shoulder and elbow joints among other places. Inflammation of a bursa is called bursitis, a term most people have heard of or may have suffered with at some time. Pain and limitation of range of motion of a joint can be caused by bursitis, although there can be other causes. At some universities the official responsible for paying out funds is called the Bursar, literally, “holder of the purse”. After the official has “disbursed” all funds, he or she has literally emptied the purse!


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