Bursitis of the Elbow
Bursitis of the elbow can be a painful condition. There are two main bursa about the elbow – anteriorly where the biceps tendon inserts onto the radial tuberosity and posteriorly superficial to the olecranon portion of the ulnar bone. Bursae are fluid-filled cavities located where tendons or muscles move over bony points near joints, such as the elbow. The function of a bursa is to facilitate movement and reduce friction between moving parts.
Olecranon bursitis is easily recognized as it may become quite large in nature. The most frequent cause of Olecranon bursitis is due to a traumatic or repetitive injury in this region, and may be infectious in nature. Even rheumatologic conditions, such as gout have been frequently identified as causing the posterior bursitis about the elbow.
The bursa at the bicipital tendon may occur from repetitive flexion and extension activities and, if it becomes large enough, may cause compression on the posterior interrosseous branch of the radial nerve, causing radial nerve compression of the radial innervated musculature. Enlargement of either the anterior or posterior bursa may be associated with other underlying conditions due to muscular tenderness injury of either acute or chronic origin. Careful evaluation by a skilled clinician is necessary to evaluate for underlying associated problems.
Treatment for Bursitis of the Elbow
Generally, treatment for bursitis includes:
- Rest: Take a break from whatever activity is causing the elbow to swell or become painful.
- Ice: Apply ice packs for short periods of time (15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day).
- Compression: Wrap an elastic bandage around the elbow to keep swelling down.
- Elevation: Elevate the elbow above the level of your heart.
Usually bursitis will resolve on its own.
If the bursitis swelling comes on suddenly or if you experienced a direct blow to the elbow, see your physician right away, as you may need X-rays to rule out the possibility of a fracture. Depending upon the cause of the swelling, you doctor may recommend aspirating, or draining, the bursa. The fluid from the bursa is removed using a syringe. An anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce pain and swelling. Cortisone injections may be used to treat bursitis. Surgery may be a final option to remove the bursa.
If you continue to suffer with bursitis of the elbow and your current treatment plan leaves you feeling hopeless, perhaps a fresh set of experienced eyes can change your outlook. Since 1990, Dennis M. Lox, M.D has applied his personal interests in sports medicine, cutting-edge regenerative medicine and chronic pain management to helping patients increase their quality of life. Contact us for an appointment at 727-462-5582.
Dennis M. Lox, MD, and the Florida Spine Center serve patients within the greater Tampa Bay area, including Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg, as well as all of Florida and the US.
All statements, information or opinions provided by this website are provided for educational purposes only. We do not diagnose nor treat through this website or by telephone. As you consider any treatment, discuss them with your physician