Bursitis of the Elbow Surgery

Bursitis of the elbow can often be treated non-surgically, but in persistent cases, surgery might be recommended. There are two main surgical options:

1. Elbow Bursa Aspiration: In this minimally invasive option, a needle is used to draw out (aspirate) the excess fluid in the bursa, relieving pressure and inflammation. This is often done under local anaesthesia and can be done in an outpatient setting.

2. Bursectomy: If the bursitis is chronic or recurrent, a bursectomy, or surgical removal of the bursa, may be performed. This can be done either through open surgery or arthroscopically with small incisions and a camera to guide the surgeon.

Expected Surgery Outcome

Both surgical options aim to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the elbow. Most patients notice significant improvement in symptoms and return to their regular activities within weeks to months. The exact timeline varies depending on the individual’s health status and the specific procedure performed.

Potential surgery complications and risks

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. These may include infection, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, and recurrence of the bursitis. In rare cases, patients may experience complex regional pain syndrome, a condition marked by severe, chronic pain.


  • Infection: a potential risk with any surgery, infections are typically treated with antibiotics.
  • Nerve Damage: there is potential for nerves near the surgery site to be inadvertently damaged, which could result in weakness or numbness.
  • Bleeding: While controlled bleeding is part of any surgical procedure, excessive bleeding can occasionally occur.
  • Recurrence of Bursitis: In some cases, despite successful surgery, the bursitis can return.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): This is a rare but serious complication, characterized by severe, chronic pain.

Recovery after surgery

After either elbow bursa aspiration or bursectomy, patients will often be advised to rest, elevate, and apply ice to the elbow. Physiotherapy might be recommended to restore strength and mobility. Recovery time varies from person to person but generally, patients can resume daily activities within a few weeks to a few months. Strenuous activities may require a longer recovery period.