Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and other tissues, such as muscles or tendons. They also help to reduce friction and protect the bones and tissues from wear and tear. Bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the bursa, causing symptoms such as pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling in the affected area.
There are more than 150 bursae in the human body, most of which are located around the joints. In the elbow is the olecranon bursa, which is located at the bony tip of the elbow. The olecranon bursa can also become irritated or inflamed, causing swelling around the elbow.
Here, we will talk about the causes, treatment, and prevention of elbow bursitis.
What Causes Bursitis?
Bursitis can have different causes. Playing sports that require throwing motions or lifting something over the head repeatedly can cause the elbow bursa to swell. Exercises such as being in a plank position, which puts pressure on the elbow joints, can also cause bursitis. Occupations that require people to be on their elbows, such as roofers, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and repairmen are at greater risk of elbow bursitis. Housework such as painting, scrubbing, gardening, and shoveling can also cause bursitis. Students and office workers that lean on their elbows for long periods can also cause swelling of the olecranon bursa.
How is Elbow Bursitis Treated?
There are several treatments available for elbow bursitis, depending on the severity of the condition. For mild to moderate cases, stopping the activity that is aggravating the condition, resting the arm, using a splint or brace to keep it immobilized, applying ice to the affected area, and taking anti-inflammatories may be enough to bring down the swelling and relieve symptoms. More severe cases may require physical therapy or corticosteroid injections to decrease swelling. An infected elbow bursa may need to be aspirated to drain all fluid from the bursa before starting antibiotic therapy. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed and infected bursa. After the inflamed bursa is removed, a new, normal one will grow back in its place.
How Can You Prevent Elbow Bursitis?
Elbow bursitis is one condition that can be prevented. To prevent elbow bursitis, avoid activities that put repetitive stress on the elbow joint, and be mindful of the pressure placed on the tip of the elbow. If you must participate in certain activities, take breaks often and use an ice pack to reduce inflammation after playing. Wearing a supportive elbow sleeve and elbow pads can also help prevent this condition.
Elbow Bursitis Treatment in North Dakota
Choose The Bone & Joint Center for comprehensive treatment of your elbow bursitis. We have three orthopedic surgeons that specialize in the treatment of hand and upper extremity disorders – Dr. Duncan B. Ackerman, Dr. Brock A. Norrie, and Dr. Troy D. Pierce. Our treatment programs are individualized to the patient for lasting and effective symptom relief.