Elbow Bursitis

Overview

This condition is an inflammation of the olecranon bursa, a fluid-filled sac between the skin and bones on the back of the elbow. It can cause pain and restrict motion of the elbow. The bursa may also become infected.

Causes

Elbow bursitis can be caused by a sharp blow or injury to the elbow, prolonged pressure such as leaning on a tabletop for long periods of time, infection, or medical conditions such as arthritis and gout.

Symptoms

Swelling is the primary symptom, and is usually seen first. The patient may also feel pain when the elbow is touched or moved. Sometimes, swelling can be severe enough to restrict motion of the elbow. Redness of the skin around the elbow, fever and chills can be signs of infection.

Treatment

If the bursitis is not caused by an infection, it may be treated with ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and compressive bandages to reduce swelling. An elbow pad may be needed for cushioning.

Additional Treatment

If the bursitis is caused by an infection, antibiotics are prescribed, and fluid may be removed from the bursa. For bursitis related to trauma, a steroid may be injected into the bursa after the fluid is drained. Surgery may be needed for resistant infections and pain and swelling that is not relieved by non-operative measures.

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