Treatments for fluid on the elbow

Written by holly huntington
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Swelling, fluid build-up and pain in their elbow is generally due to a condition known as bursitis. There are over 150 bursae (fluid-filled sacs) in the human body, and inflammation can occur in any of these areas. However, once treatment is started most symptoms disappear within a few weeks, although it may flare up again on occasion. Treatment for fluid on the elbow is based on what caused the bursitis in the first place; therefore, treatment can range from rest to surgery.


Elbow bursitis can occur when you overstress your elbow joint through repetitive use (such as swinging a tennis racket or vacuuming a floor). Symptoms can include joint stiffness, swelling, inflammation, warmth, redness and pain.


If the elbow bursitis fluid build-up, swelling and pain are due to infection, a doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic. However, he or she will also recommend that the affected area is allowed to rest. Keeping the elbow immobile will aid in recovery.

General Treatment

The treatment normally recommended for elbow bursitis is actually very simple and involves resting the elbow. In addition, ice can be used for swelling. In order to reduce both inflammation and pain it may be necessary to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug as well.

Persistent Fluid Buildup

If the fluid build-up is not resolved after rest, antibiotic use or anti-inflammatory drugs, then it may become necessary for the fluid to be removed surgically. While surgical draining of the fluid can be done, it is rarely needed.

Other Treatments

A corticosteroid drug may be injected by a physician to treat this condition. This can produce an immediate relief from the symptoms and is often a treatment option for professional athletes participating in competitions. In addition, a doctor may also encourage that you seek physical therapy to aid in movement and healing, or suggest certain exercises as treatment of this condition.


While bursitis can be caused by infection or repetitive use, it can also be caused due to muscles not being kept strengthened or warmed up before exercise. In addition, it can also be a result of not using padded cushions when sitting on knees during gardening tasks or even due to wearing ill-fitting shoes. Therefore, one form of treatment for this condition if it is recurring is learning what keeps causing it and taking the precautionary measures to prevent it from occurring again.

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