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Bursitis of Elbow

Bursitis of Elbow

Bursitis of Elbow occurs in the elbow joint. It’s usually caused by overuse from your job or activities like sports. You’ll probably only need at-home treatments to help your bursa heal. Most people recover in three to six weeks.

Elbow bursitis is painful swelling around your elbow joint. Specifically, it’s inflammation in the olecranon bursa — the fluid-filled sac that surrounds and protects your elbow.

All the big joints in your body are surrounded by a bursa. They act as cushions and shock absorbers between your bones and your muscles, tendons or skin. Bursitis happens when a bursa gets irritated by overuse, damaged from trauma or during an infection.

The pain from an inflamed bursa may be sudden or build up over time.

Elbow Bursitis affect

Elbow bursitis can affect anyone, but certain groups of people are more likely to develop it, including:

  • People with physical jobs: If your job requires you to be on your hands and knees a lot — or to lean on your elbows frequently — you’re more likely to develop elbow bursitis over time.
  • Athletes or people with certain hobbies: Sports or other activities that require you do repetitive motions with your elbows and arms can increase pressure on your elbow’s bursa. Musicians also have a higher risk for elbow bursitis.
  • People with certain medical conditions: You’re more likely to develop elbow bursitis if you have conditions like arthritis, diabetes or thyroid disease.

Symptoms of elbow bursitis include:

  • Swelling around your elbow.
  • Pain, including when you move your elbow.
  • Discoloration and warmth (if the bursitis is caused by an infection).

Causes of elbow bursitis include:

  • Repetitive motions at work or during a hobby (like a baseball pitcher throwing a baseball).
  • Spending a lot of time in positions that put pressure on your elbows.
  • Infections.
  • Traumas or a sudden blow to your elbow.

Common activities that can lead to bursitis

  • Carpentry.
  • Gardening and raking.
  • Painting.
  • Poor posture.
  • Bone spurs or arthritis in your elbow.
  • Scrubbing.
  • Shoveling.
  • Sports like tennis, golf and baseball.

Diagnosis Bursitis of Elbow

Orthopedic Surgeon at Shreya Hospital will diagnose elbow bursitis with a physical exam. They’ll listen to your symptoms and examine your elbow.

If your Specialist suspects your bursitis is caused by an infection (also known as septic bursitis), or if they want to rule out other causes for the pain in your elbow, you might need a few tests including:

  • X-ray.
  • Ultrasound.
  • MRI.
  • Blood tests.
  • A fluid sample taken from your bursa.

Treatment for Bursitis of Elbow

How elbow bursitis is treated depends on if it’s caused by an infection.

If you don’t have an infection, you’ll probably only need at-home treatments. These include:

  • Rest: Avoiding the activity that caused your bursitis will help it heal.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter NSAIDs will help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by bursitis.
  • Immobilization: Stopping your elbow from moving with a splint or brace can help it heal.

If these treatments don’t work after three to six weeks, your provider might remove the excess fluid around your bursa (called aspiration) and give you a corticosteroid injection to reduce the inflammation.

Septic bursitis treatment

If you have an infection, your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics. You’ll need to take pills for around a week. Make sure to take your antibiotics for as long as your provider prescribes. Even if your symptoms improve, you need to take antibiotics for the length of time they were prescribed to make sure the medicine can kill all the infection remaining in your body.

Your provider might also aspirate your bursa to remove as much of the infected fluid as possible.

Elbow bursitis surgery

It’s rare to need surgery for elbow bursitis. If your symptoms don’t respond to non-surgical treatments — or if you have a severe infection that doesn’t get better after taking antibiotics — you might need surgery.

Surgery to remove your elbow bursa is an outpatient procedure, which means you’ll be able to go home the same day. After surgery, you’ll need a splint or brace to hold your elbow in place while it heals. You’ll need around a month to recover.