Elbow bursitis is a painful swelling of the joint around your elbow. In particular, the olecranon bursa — the fluid-filled sac that surrounds and protects your elbow — is inflamed.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
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).
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES & RISK FACTORS?
Elbow bursitis can affect anyone, but certain groups are more prone to it, including:
- People with physical jobs: If your job requires you to frequently be on your hands and knees — or to lean on your elbows — you are more likely to develop elbow bursitis over time.
- Athletes or people with certain hobbies: Sports or other activities that require you to do repetitive motions with your elbows and arms can put pressure on the bursa of your elbow. Musicians are also more likely to develop elbow bursitis.
- People with certain medical conditions: If you have arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid disease, you are more likely to develop elbow bursitis.
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?
A physical exam will be performed by your healthcare provider to diagnose elbow bursitis. They will examine your elbow and listen to your symptoms.
If your provider suspects an infection is causing your bursitis (also known as septic bursitis), or if they want to rule out other causes of your elbow pain, you may need a few tests, including:
- Blood tests.
- A fluid sample taken from your bursa.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
The treatment for elbow bursitis depends on whether it is caused by an infection.
If you do not have an infection, you will most likely only require at-home treatments. These are some examples:
If these treatments don’t work after three to six weeks, your doctor may aspirate (remove) the excess fluid around your bursa and administer a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation.