By Dr. Glen Seidman

In order to know when to seek treatment for elbow bursitis, it is first important to understand what elbow bursitis is and the cause. When swelling and inflammation occurs at the bursa, which is a small sac of fluid located at the tip of the elbow, elbow bursitis is present. The bursa is responsible for allowing the skin to smoothly glide when the elbow bends and extends. When it becomes inflamed, it can generate more fluid and cause swelling as well as a painful bubble at the tip of the elbow.

Causes of Elbow Bursitis

There are many causes of elbow bursitis. However, it is usually the result of a direct blow to the tip of the elbow and widely seen in athletes. This condition can also arise due to an infection, gout, kidney failure, arthritis, and repetitive stress during golf, tennis, baseball and other activities that cause the elbow to swing at an object with force.

Symptoms of Elbow Bursitis

Swelling at the tip of elbow is the most common symptom of elbow bursitis. Other symptoms of this condition include:

  • Elbow stiffness
  • Pain when pressure is applied to the tip of the elbow
  • Limited range of motion of the elbow
  • A sac that bulges out from the elbow and may or may not be red

Infected Elbow Bursitis

An infection within the bursa is seen in about 20 percent of individuals diagnosed with elbow bursitis. Elbow bursitis patients with gout or arthritis are at an increased risk of developing an infection. A fever, chills, sweats, scrapes and cuts around the swollen area, and redness around the back of the elbow may signify an infection.

When to Seek Treatment

Dr Seidman elbow buritis

Dr. Glen Seidman

If you experience any elbow bursitis symptoms, you should visit the doctor right away. They will conduct an exam of the arm and several imaging tests to rule out other conditions. In addition, a blood sample and/or a bursa fluid analysis may be performed to pinpoint the exact cause of the fluid.

Elbow Bursitis Treatment

Fortunately, elbow bursitis typically improves within a few weeks with conservative treatments. These conservative treatment include icing the elbow, wearing elbow pad or compression sleeves, over-the-counter pain medications, cortisone injections, and using a needle to drain excess fluid from the bursa.

Although surgery is not typically recommend, it may be necessary in rare cases so that the present bursa can be removed and a new, healthy bursa can form.

Contact South Shore Orthopedics

If you suspect you may have elbow bursitis, schedule an appointment with South Shore Orthopedics today. Our providers are experts in diagnosing and treating bursitis. We look forward to helping you improve the condition of your elbow.