What is a Bursa?
A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac found between soft tissues and bones. It lubricates and acts as a cushion to decrease friction between bones when they move.
What is Elbow Bursitis?
Bursitis refers to the inflammation and swelling of the bursa. Inflammation of the bursa on the point of the elbow is known as ‘olecranon bursitis’.
Causes of Elbow Bursitis
Elbow bursitis is often caused due to pressure applied on the elbow either with constant leaning on it or with a direct blow or impact. Bursitis can also occur in other conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis and infections. An infective bursitis is less common but requires much more urgent and strict treatment.
Symptoms of Elbow Bursitis
The main two symptoms are swelling and tenderness to contact (but not necessarily both). The swelling can appear as an obvious fluid-filled sack.
Diagnosis of Elbow Bursitis
Diagnosis is done by reviewing your medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. Fluid from your bursa may be removed for lab analysis if deemed necessary. In most (but not all) cases no other imaging or tests are required.
Treatment of Elbow Bursitis
Painless bursitis does not necessarily need much treatment as it can often settle down on its own. A few simple measures such as ice and rest can help it to settle down quicker. If the bursitis is either large or painful or has any sign of infection, it may require further treatment which may involve draining the fluid with a syringe or injecting an anti-inflammatory. Infected bursas need much more strict and urgent treatment than other forms of bursitis.