Water on the elbow treatment

Updated February 21, 2017

Water on the elbow is sometimes referred to as Popeye elbow because it tends to make your elbow swell up like its namesake. The medical term for this is Olecranon Bursitis. Water on the elbow occurs when fluids build up on the joint after a blow to that area.

Signs of Water on the Elbow

Symptoms of water on the elbow are similar to water on the knee. This includes pain in the elbow and swelling of the area like the size of a fluid-filled golf ball. It can be diagnosed by a physician through a traditional examination or through X-rays.

Treatments for Water on the Elbow

Water on the knee is sometimes treated by draining the fluid from the area. This is not done with water on the elbow because the risk of infection is greater. Ice can be used to treat the swelling. Also be sure to wrap the area with an ace bandage. Wrapping will help to protect the elbow and will soak up any draining from rupture. Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication, may be taken to ease the pain and discomfort.


Water on the elbow will typically go away on its own in one to two weeks. If the elbow is not better after a month, consider speaking with your doctor and requesting an ultrasound of the area. Water on the elbow, if left untreated, can form calcium deposits on the joint or cause infection.

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About the Author

Amanda Ballard Coates is a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and a member of the American Association of Professional Coders. She is also a freelance writer and photographer. She writes mostly nonfiction and has been published on several informative websites. Ballard Coates' writing has been published on websites such as,, and