Elbow Bursitis

What is Elbow Bursitis?

Elbow Bursitis is also known as Olecranon Bursitis. It gets its name from the place where it forms on the elbow. The olecranon is a pointed bone which forms the tip of the elbow. Between the olecranon and the skin on the elbow lies a fluid sac called bursa. The bursa enables the skin to slide over the bone smoothly without being abraded.
If it gets irritated or inflamed, the bursa can swell up and enlarge. This inflammation is referred to as bursitis.

Elbow Bursitis

What is Elbow Bursitis?

Elbow Bursitis is also known as Olecranon Bursitis. It gets its name from the place where it forms on the elbow. The olecranon is a pointed bone which forms the tip of the elbow. Between the olecranon and the skin on the elbow lies a fluid sac called bursa. The bursa enables the skin to slide over the bone smoothly without being abraded.
If it gets irritated or inflamed, the bursa can swell up and enlarge. This inflammation is referred to as bursitis.

Causes and Symptoms of Elbow Bursitis

Causes 

The cause of elbow bursitis could be unknown in some cases. Other causes include:

  • Direct impact on the bursa
  • Prolonged pressure on the tip of your elbow. For example, when you rest your elbows on hard or rough surfaces for a considerable length of time
  • Engaging in jobs which require you to crawl most of the time
  • Pre-existing conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms

  • Swelling at the elbow tip
  • The swelling is usually gradual, but in some cases, it might develop quickly
  • Warm and red skin around the elbow
  • In some rare cases, the inflamed bursa can get infected

How is it diagnosed?

Physical Exam

The diagnosis is usually made on examination of the lump by your doctor.

Imaging Tests

An X-ray may sometimes be performed to look for any underlying cause of the swelling or to rule out other possible causes of swelling around the elbow.

Elbow Bursitis

How is it diagnosed?

Physical Exam

The diagnosis is usually made on examination of the lump by your doctor.

Imaging Tests

An X-ray may sometimes be performed to look for any underlying cause of the swelling or to rule out other possible causes of swelling around the elbow.

Elbow Bursitis

Treatment Options

In standard cases, painkillers and rest will be sufficient, and you will recover in about a month. However, if the swelling does not subside or remains symptomatic, further intervention may help.

Keep in mind that if your condition requires surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon should always educate you on:

  • Risks of the surgery
  • How to prepare for a surgery
  • What will be required for post-op care

Rest
A simple rest could help heal bursitis. Stay clear of activities that put direct pressure on your elbow. The swelling may not fully resolve as the scarred bursa may sometimes remain thickened.

Anti-inflammatory medications
Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed initially to help to reduce the swelling and reduce the pain that you are experiencing in your elbow.

Elbow Arthroscopy
The fluid in big lumps can be aspirated with a needle in the clinic setting. While this may reduce the overall size of the swelling, there will likely be residual fluid and swelling in the lump. The fluid may also reaccumulate over the next few days if the underlying inflammation has not resolved.

In symptomatic or recurrent cases, the bursa can be surgically excised through an incision in the back of the elbow or via arthroscopy (keyhole) techniques. In symptomatic or recurrent cases, the bursa can be surgically excised through an incision in the back of the elbow. 
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Disclaimer

Shoulder | Elbow Orthopaedic Group does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians that are referenced in this article. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her Orthopaedic Surgeon.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

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