Bursitis of the Elbow

Bursitis of the elbow, medically known as olecranon bursitis, is an inflammation of the thin, sac-like fluid-filled cavity (bursa) located at the bony tip of the elbow. This condition often results from trauma, prolonged pressure, infection, or conditions such as arthritis and gout.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of bursitis of the elbow include:

  • Swelling over the tip of the elbow
  • Pain when the elbow is in motion or pressure is applied
  • Redness and warmth, indicating infection
  • Difficulty in moving the elbow

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of bursitis of the elbow typically involves:

  • Physical Examination: Your doctor will inspect the elbow for signs of swelling, redness, or warmth. They may also assess your range of motion.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI can help to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis.
  • Laboratory Tests: If infection is suspected, a sample of the bursa fluid may be taken and sent for testing.

Prevention

Preventative measures for bursitis of the elbow include:

  • Avoiding putting continuous pressure on your elbow
  • Taking frequent breaks from repetitive elbow motions
  • Wearing elbow pads to cushion the joint
  • Regularly exercising to maintain joint flexibility

Treatment

Different treatment options for bursitis of the elbow are:

  • Rest and Physiotherapy: Resting the affected elbow and engaging in specific exercises can help manage symptoms and enhance joint mobility.
  • Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Elbow Pads: Wearing an elbow pad can help protect the bursa from further trauma.
  • Injections: If symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend injecting corticosteroids into the bursa to reduce inflammation.
  • Aspiration: In cases of infectious bursitis, your doctor may drain the bursa with a needle to remove extra fluid.
  • Surgery: If conservative treatments do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the inflamed bursa. This is typically an outpatient procedure with a relatively short recovery time.