Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis

Bursae are thin, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushing between prominent bones and the skin. The olecranon bursa is located between the skin and the pointy tip of the elbow. If the olecranon bursa becomes irritated, inflamed, or infected, more fluid will fill the sac and bursitis will develop causing swelling and pain at the tip of the elbow.If your doctor suspects that bursitis is due to an infection, he or she may recommend aspirating (removing the fluid from) the bursa with a needle. This is commonly performed as an office procedure. Fluid removal helps relieve symptoms and gives your doctor a sample that can be looked at in a laboratory to identify if any bacteria are growing. This also lets your doctor know if a specific antibiotic is needed to fight the infection.

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before the exact type of infection is identified. This is done to prevent the infection from progressing. The antibiotic that your doctor prescribes at this point will treat a number of possible infectio

If the bursitis is not from an infection, it can be treated with a number of options including splints to hold the elbow still and let the inflammation subside, elbow pads to cushion the elbow, and medications.

If swelling and pain do not respond to these measures after 3 to 4 weeks, your doctor may recommend removing fluid from the bursa and injecting a corticosteroid medication into the bursa. Corticosteroid injections usually work well to relieve pain and swelling. However, symptoms can return. Surgery is performed though uncommonly.