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Olecranon bursitis

olecranon bursitis, olecranon bursitis treatment
Olecranon bursitis also informally known as "Liquid Elbow ", "elbow bump",1 "student's elbow", "Popeye elbow", or "baker's elbow", is a condition characterized by pain, redness and swelling around the elbow, caused by inflammation of the fluid filled sac of the elbow joint This bursa is located just over the extensor aspect of the extreme proximal end of the ulna In common with other bursae, it is impalpable and contains only a very small amount of fluid in its normal state, and fulfills the function of facilitating the joint's movement by enabling anatomical structures to glide more easily over each other


  • 1 Signs and symptoms
  • 2 Causes
  • 3 Treatments
    • 31 Non-surgical treatments
    • 32 Surgical treatments
  • 4 References

Signs and symptomsedit

Symptoms include swelling in the elbow, which can sometimes be large enough to restrict motion There is pain originating in the elbow joint from mild to severe which can spread to the rest of the arm If the bursa is infected, there also will be prominent redness and the skin will feel very warm Another symptom would include the infected bursa possibly opening spontaneously and draining pus2


Hard blow to the tip of the elbow on a wall

Bursitis normally develops as a result either of a single injury to the elbow for example, a hard blow to the tip of the elbow, or perhaps more commonly due to repeated minor injuries, such as repeated leaning on the point of the elbow on a hard surface The chance of developing bursitis is higher if one's job or hobby involves a repetitive movement for example, tennis, golf, or even repetitive computer work involving leaning on one's elbow3 The likelihood of developing the condition is increased as one gets older4

As a reaction to injury, the lining of the bursa becomes inflamed It then secretes a much greater than normal amount of fluid into the closed cavity of the bursa, from where it has nowhere to go The bursa therefore inflates, producing a swelling over the proximal end of the ulna which is usually inflamed and tender

Another possible cause of inflammation of the bursa is infection, which can usually but not always be traced to a crack or other lesion in the skin which allowed for bacteria of the normal skin flora to invade deeper layers of tissue2


Non-surgical treatmentsedit

Conservative management of minor cases involves icing, a firm compression bandage, and avoidance of the aggravating activity This can also be augmented with oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs Elbow padding can also be used for symptomatic relief Treatment for more severe cases may include aspirating the excess bursa fluid with a syringe draining of the bursa, or injecting into the bursa a hydrocortisone type medication which is aimed at relieving the inflammation and preventing further accumulation of fluid

In case of infection, the bursitis should be treated with an antibiotic2

Surgical treatmentsedit

If the fluid continues to return after multiple drainings or the bursa is constantly causing pain to the patient, surgery5 to remove the bursa is an option The minor operation removes the bursa from the elbow and is left to regrow but at a normal size over a period of ten to fourteen days It is usually done under general anesthetic and has minimal risks The surgery does not disturb any muscle, ligament, or joint structures To recover from surgical removal, a splint will be applied to the arm to protect the skin Exercises will be prescribed to improve range of motion2


  1. ^ Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & P 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation All rights reserved
  2. ^ a b c d "Elbow Olecranon Bursitis -OrthoInfo - AAOS" Orthoinfoaaosorg 2011-01-01 Retrieved 2013-08-19 
  3. ^ NHS direct - Bursitis
  4. ^ Mayo Clinic - Bursitis risk factors
  5. ^ eOrthopod - Olecranon Bursitis Surgery

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Olecranon bursitis

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