Elbow Bursitis

What is Elbow Bursitis?

Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs in joints that serve to cushion the space and decrease friction between bone and tissue. In the elbow joint, the olecranon bursa is the thin and normally flat bursa located between the olecranon bone at the back of the elbow and the skin on the elbow. Elbow bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when the olecranon bursa becomes inflamed, restricting the elbow's range of motion. This condition also puts the bursa at risk of infection.

What causes Elbow Bursitis?

This condition can be caused by conditions like gout and arthritis, but it can also be caused by sudden injury or trauma, like a blow to the elbow. Infection and prolonged pressure on the bursa, like from leaning on the elbow for long periods of time, can also cause the condition to occur.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The most common symptom of elbow bursitis is visible swelling. If the swelling becomes severe, it can reduce the elbow's range of movement. Pain may be felt when the elbow is moved or touched. If infection occurs, symptoms may include chills, fever, and redness around the elbow.

How is Elbow Bursitis treated?

In an infection is not present, this condition may be successfully treated with conservative methods, which can include anti-inflammatory medication, ice, and compression. Your doctor may recommend the use of an elbow pad to provide cushioning.

If infection is the cause of the elbow bursitis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics and may remove fluid from the bursa. If trauma or injury played a role in the condition's formation, your doctor may drain the excess fluid, and then inject a steroid into the bursa. If pain, swelling, or infection are not relieved by conservative methods, surgery may be necessary.

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