In this article, you will learn what causes fluid in the elbow, along with its symptoms and treatment.
The condition of fluid in the elbow is also known as elbow bursitis or olecranon bursitis. In this condition, there is fluid build-up in a sac located behind the elbow joint, which is known as olecranon bursa. It is actually a slippery tissue that enables smooth movements around the bony prominences located behind the joint. Inflammation of the bursa leads to fluid accumulation in the sacs. This gives rise to swelling and pain around the joint. On that note, let us learn what causes fluid in the elbow through the paragraphs below.
The common cause is perpetual pressure on the elbow joint. The pressure can either be caused due to body weight on the elbow or due to repeated similar movements. It can also be caused due to trauma to the joint or the impact of a fall. If the joint pops for any reason, it can also cause the condition. Arthritis is also one of the causes. The bursa can get inflamed due to arthritis, giving rise to this condition. However, it must be noted that very few cases of elbow bursitis are caused by arthritis. Gout is another cause of this condition. Infection to the bursa can also lead to the condition. The most common cause is ‘no apparent reason’. But, there exists a possibility, that a previous injury to the elbow was neglected.
It is not possible to see or feel a bursa. The first symptom that can be seen of this condition is thickening of the skin along with swelling around the joint. There can be a cyst-like formation due to filling of fluid in the sac. There may or may not be mild joint pain, it may or may not affect movement of the elbow. However, if there is infection then normally there is pain around the joint accompanied by redness and tenderness.
For treating this condition, rest is said to be the best medicine. It is important to rest as much as possible. After the pain and swelling subside, regular movements can be started gradually, but at one go. To reduce inflammation, pain, and redness, an ice pack can be applied. However, it is important not to use the ice directly on the affected body part. Always use the ice pack covered in a towel or plastic bag. The ice should not be placed for more than 10 minutes at any given point of time.
However, you can use the ice pack three to four times a day. Compression techniques can also be used to treat the condition. Keeping the elbow in a raised position helps to treat the condition as well. If the pain is unbearable, then anti-inflammatory medicines can be prescribed. It will also prove to be helpful in reducing the inflammation and swelling.
If there is a lot of fluid buildup on the elbow, then it may become necessary to drain the fluid. Normally, the syringe and needle method is used. If the problem occurs again, then a tight pressure bandage may have to be used. If there is an infection, then antibiotics will be prescribed to get rid of the infection. Very often, the fluid build up also reduces and there is no need for any other treatment. If none of the options work, then surgery is the last option which will have to be used. In that case, the bursa is removed totally. In some cases, burisitis physical therapy may be prescribed.
The best medicine is to avoid putting pressure on the affected part. In case of a trauma, take care till the injured area heals. If you see any signs of fluid, then take care so that the condition does not aggravate. Rest so that the condition can be contained in a limited time span.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.