What is Elbow Bursitis?

Elbow bursitis is a condition that causes a build-up of fluid in the olecranon bursa, a sac that sits behind the elbow. A healthy, properly functioning bursa is responsible for permitting smooth movement of the bones constructing the elbow. When it becomes inflamed, the sac fills with fluid, causing pain and swelling. The condition is typically identified by patients, who find a soft lump on the back of their elbow, oftentimes out of nowhere. It is far more common in aging men than the general population and typically presents in the dominant arm.


Elbow bursitis can occur after a traumatic impact to the area, sustained during a fall or other accident. It can also happens after an injury to the skin, such as an abrasion or cut, becomes infected with bacteria. People with inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis or gout, are also more likely to develop the condition. Still, for others the condition appears to develop out of nowhere, without an identifiable cause.


Patients typically report experiencing pain and swelling around the back of the elbow, which in turn causes a limited range of motion. For some patients, the bursitis is caused by infection in the bursa, which is often accompanied by fever, sweats and/or chills, redness around the area, and scrapes or cuts in the skin.


Seeing your doctor, right here in Plano TX, is the best way to diagnose bursitis, as there are other conditions which can cause pain and swelling in the elbow. Typically, your doctor will perform an exam, followed by an X-ray, in order to properly assess the condition of the elbow joint. He/she may also need to obtain a sample of the fluid from the bursa in some cases, so that it an be tested for bacteria and infection. In some cases, bursitis can appear as a sign of another condition, making it important for a doctor to examine and conduct tests on the area before prescribing treatment.


After your doctor has determined the condition, you will be advised on how to proceed with care. Resting and preventing pressure on the elbow is crucial for healing, and reducing and at least temporarily eliminating the activities that led to the condition’s development is necessary for improvement. Alternating between applying heat and ice will assist with pain and swelling, as is the case for any bodily swelling. If the condition persists, some patients may be recommended to participate in physical therapy to improve the joint’s mobility.

Some physicians will recommend undergoing a procedure to drain the excess fluid from the sac. However, this is typically restricted to those who have a potentially dangerous infection in the fluid.

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, visit Plano Orthopedic Sports Medicine & Spine Center, located at 5228 W. Plano Pkwy, Plano TX 75093 for your consultation.

Call POSMC today!

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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!