Treatment of elbow bursitis

Written by andrea hermitt
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Elbow bursitis is caused when tissue between the elbow bones and the skin become inflamed or infected. The tissue is described as a slippery sack that allows the skin to move over the bones, and it is called the bursa. If you rub your elbow in circles, you will notice that it feels spongy in this area. This condition can be painful, and can cause long term damage if left untreated.


You will know that you have bursitis from the pain in the back of the elbow and the swelling around the tip of the elbow. You may also notice lack of mobility in the elbow.


Elbow bursitis can be caused by striking the elbow, resulting in trauma and swelling to the bursa. It can be caused by a habit of leaning the tip of the elbow of a hard surface. In this case the condition would develop slowly. Bursitis can be caused by infection from a cut or scrape that allows bacteria to get into the fluid filled sack. Elbow bursitis can also can also be caused by medical conditions such as gout and arthritis.

Non-surgical treament for infection

Non-surgical treatment is used in case of bursitis caused by an infection. In this case, fluid is removed from the elbow with a needle to relieve the swelling and to test for infected fluid. If infection is discovered, the patient is then treated with antibiotics.

Non-surgical without infection

When bursitis is not caused by infection, the elbow is treated by applying ice and elevating. An elbow pad can be used to cushion the joint, and the patient should avoid applying pressure to the elbow. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory over the counter medicines are taken. In more serious cases, fluid is removed from the bursa, and it is injected with corticosteriod, an anti-inflammatory drug.

Surgical Treatment

If non surgical treatments do not work to improve the condition, then the bursa is removed from the elbow. Physical therapy follows the surgery.

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