Bursitis of the elbow, also known as olecranon Bursitis, generally results from an injury or constant pressure and stress placed on the elbow. It is the inflammation of a bursa, which consists of fluid filled cavities located at tissue sites where tendons or muscles pass over the bone near joints. It provides a slippery surface facilitating a gliding process when the elbow is extended and retracted.

When the bursa becomes inflamed, it becomes swollen and causes friction within the confined space of the elbow joint. The once slippery bursa becomes gritty and rough and can cause pain and irritation.

Those at Risk
While bursitis is often seen in patients who subject their elbows to repetitive pressure such as leaning against a hard surface and frequent bending in a sport, it is most commonly the result of trauma from either a repetitive injury or an accident or fall.

A history of patient activity and description of the symptoms followed by a physical examination and X-ray can diagnose the condition.

The treatment options for bursitis are usually nonsurgical, conservative treatment plans that may include a period of rest – possibly combined with immobilization, the use of NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen for pain relief, and a specific physical therapy program.

If the inflammation is nonresponsive to the first phase of treatment, it may be necessary to remove fluid from the bursa in conjunction with corticosteroid injections. Rarely is surgery required for this condition.