Elbow bursitis is a painful health condition which is a result of inflammation of bursa present near the elbow joint. This article talks about its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Elbow bursitis, which is also called olecranon bursitis, is a health problem that leads to the inflammation of the bursa in the elbow joint. A bursa is nothing but a fluid-filled sac which helps in easy movements of the bones near the joints. Such bursa are present in many parts of the body, and chiefly, they are present in the hip joints, shoulders, knees, and elbows. Inflammation of these bursae is called bursitis. Before knowing about the treatment for this condition, let us check the causes.
Olecranon bursitis is the inflammation of the olecranon bursa that is present on the pointed side of the elbow joint. This bursa helps the skin below the elbow joint to make easy movements along with the bone. The inflammation of this bursa leads to excess water accumulation in it, which further causes pain and swelling in the affected region. There are several causes that can lead to bursitis elbow.
- Injury or trauma to the elbow tip due to a direct blow, hit or fall.
- Continuous pressure over the elbow tip by placing it on a flat hard surface.
- Health problems like rheumatoid arthritis and gout can cause the bursa to swell.
- The injury to the elbow tip can damage the skin over the elbow tip, and if any infection occurs, such that the bacteria also infects the bursa, it can cause bursitis in the elbow.
The symptoms of bursitis elbow are quite easy to identify. Normally, the olecranon bursa cannot be viewed nor it can be felt. But when the bursa gets affected, the first symptom that can be observed is swelling over the elbow tip. Since on inflammation the bursa fills with excess fluid, the elbow tip becomes soft. The swelling of the bursa is accompanied by pain. You may experience severe pain while making movements along the elbow joint. When the bursa in the elbow is infected, it is referred as septic bursitis. The symptoms of septic bursitis include redness and scratches over the elbow tip. Sometimes, the infection may spread to other parts of the body and cause fever or illnesses. The diagnosis is easy, because of its noticeable symptoms. But since there are some other causes that can also lead to swelling of the elbow, certain tests like an X-ray may have to be performed to confirm the diagnosis. The X-ray of the elbow joint also ensures whether the joint is normal or not.
Bursitis elbow can be treated with some simple home remedies. The R.I.C.E method is usually followed as treatment for bursitis of the elbow. R.I.C.E stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate and is a bursitis elbow home treatment. The first and foremost thing you need to do is rest yourself and avoid activities that will bring strain on the elbow joint. Then, you should apply ice on the affected elbow tip for at least 15 minutes for 3 to 4 times in a day. Applying ice helps reduce the swelling and the pain. Use an elastic bandage to wrap over the elbow tip so as to compress the swollen bursa. Ensure that the wrapped bandage is not too tight and is comfortable enough to make easy hand movements. Elevation is the last step of the R.I.C.E treatment, where you need to raise your affected arm above the heart level. Usually, the symptoms of bursitis elbow disappear in few days by following the steps of R.I.C.E in the proper way. But, if you observe that the swelling has not reduced, and you still experience pain in the elbow region, then you must visit a physician. The physician may drain out the extra fluid in the sac by inserting needle. To avoid the re-accumulation of the fluid, the physician may administer cortisone injection in the bursa. The physician may also prescribe certain anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the bursa. Treatment for septic bursitis elbow usually involves the use of antibiotics, and sometimes surgery if the infection is severe.
If proper care is not taken, then chances are there that the swelling can occur again. Surgical removal of the bursa can help avoid frequent episodes. Preventive steps like avoiding pressure over the elbow, performing stretching exercises, etc., should be followed after occurrence of elbow bursitis for the first time.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.