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Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis

Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa located at the tip of the elbow, known as the olecranon. This condition can cause pain, swelling, and reduced movement in the elbow joint. It’s commonly seen in individuals who frequently lean on their elbows, but can also result from trauma, infection, or medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes and Risk Factors

The primary cause of elbow bursitis is prolonged pressure on the elbow, leading to irritation and inflammation of the olecranon bursa. This is often seen in people with jobs or hobbies that involve leaning on their elbows for extended periods. Trauma, such as a hard blow to the elbow, can also cause bursitis. In some cases, it can be triggered by an infection in the bursa or conditions like gout and rheumatoid arthritis.


Symptoms of elbow bursitis include swelling over the tip of the elbow, pain when moving or pressing on the elbow, and occasionally redness or warmth if infection is present. The swelling may grow large enough to restrict elbow movement.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, and in some cases, imaging tests or fluid aspiration to rule out infection. Treatment often starts with conservative measures such as rest, ice, and NSAIDs for pain and inflammation. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, antibiotics may be required. Aspiration of excess fluid from the bursa or corticosteroid injections may be used in persistent cases. Surgery is rare but may be necessary if the condition does not respond to other treatments.


Preventive measures include avoiding prolonged pressure on the elbows and using protective gear or padding during activities that put stress on the elbow.

Elbow bursitis, while painful and inconvenient, usually responds well to conservative treatment. Proper care and preventive measures can help individuals avoid this condition and maintain healthy elbow function.