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Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis

Home Services Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis
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Elbow Conditions

Elbow Physicians

Brian J. Keener
M.D.
Michael J. Bercik
Jr.
Trevor G. Jackson
M.D.

Elbow bursitis, also called olecranon bursitis or student’s elbow, is the inflammation and swelling of the olecranon bursa, a small, cushioning sac of fluid, that protects the large, pointy olecranon bone at the back of the elbow.

The condition may be caused by a traumatic fall or hard blow, excessive leaning on the elbow, infection, or conditions such as gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. At greatest risk are individuals who work as plumbers or air conditioning technicians who spend a lot of time crawling on their elbows.

Symptoms of olecranon bursitis include swelling around the point of the elbow, pain over the rear of the elbow, pain when leaning on the elbow, and/or pain when bending or straightening the elbow. If the bursa becomes infected, the skin may get warm and red, and the inspection may spread to other parts of the arm or body.

After evaluating your condition and confirming a diagnosis of olecranon bursitis with an ultrasound scan or MRI, an upper extremity subspecialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group may suggest treatment with ice and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling, injection of corticosteroid medication directly into the bursa, an elbow pad to cushion the elbow, and avoiding direct pressure on the swollen elbow.

If the bursitis is caused by an infection, it may be necessary to remove fluid from the bursa, followed by antibiotic treatment. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful, the bursa can be surgically removed.

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