Olecranon Bursitis is named for its location over the olecranon bone, which lies at the back of the elbow. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursac - a sac of fluid located over a weight bearing area providing cushion and reducing friction during movement.
Symptoms of Olecranon Bursitis:
- Pain - especially with movement of the elbow or pressure on the elbow.
- Swelling - a lump may be felt in the back of the affected elbow. The swell´ng or lump is caused by increased fluid within the bursa.
- Redness - red streaking, warmth, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the arm caused by infection.
Causes of Olecranon Bursitis:
- Pressure placed on the bursa or from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis resulting in inflammation.
- Trauma to the elbow, causing bleeding or fluid buildup.
- Infection resulting from an injury at the site of the bursa, or an infection spreading to the bursa, or a blood-borne infection.
Olecranon bursitis is diagnosed after a review of your medical history and a physical examination. X-rays may also be necessary in order to determine whether there is a spur at the tip of the olecranon or if a fracture is present. If there is a concern about an infection in the elbow, it may be necessary to drain fluid from the elbow with a needle and have the fluid tested by a laboratory.
Treatment options include:
For Acute Bursitis (sudden)
- Padded dressing and anti-inflammatory medication.
- Drainage of excess fluid in the sac with a needle.
- Injections of medication such as cortisone into the sac to decrease inflammation and swelling.
For Chronic Bursitis (persistent)
- Educating on behavior changes (avoid leaning on the elbows, protecting the elbows during sports activities with elbow pads).
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- Antibiotic medications to treat an infection if present.
- Surgery to drain or remove the bursa.