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Elbow Bursitis

What is elbow bursitis?

Elbow bursitis, also called olecranon bursitis or “Popeye elbow,” is a swelling of the olecranon bursa. The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid, located between tissues such as bone, muscle, tendons, and skin, that decreases rubbing, friction, and irritation. The olecranon bursa is located at the bony tip of each elbow.

A healthy olecranon bursa allows for the skin to slide over the bone as you move your elbow. If the olecranon bursa is inflamed, it can cause pain and swelling on the outside of your elbow.

What causes elbow bursitis?

Elbow bursitis can be caused by:

What are the symptoms of elbow bursitis?

Symptoms of elbow bursitis may include:

How is elbow bursitis diagnosed?

The diagnostic process starts by talking with you about your symptoms and conducting a detailed physical examination. Diagnostic imaging, including X-rays and MRI scans, can be useful for a diagnosis as well.

How is elbow bursitis treated?

Most people experience relief from elbow bursitis with conservative, nonsurgical treatment. Based on the severity of symptoms, treatment options may include:

If nonsurgical treatment is not effective, surgery may be appropriate.

What can I do at home to treat elbow bursitis?

Home treatment for elbow bursitis includes: