Elbow Bursitis

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Some of the most common causes of elbow bursitis are trauma, extreme impact to the elbow or other existing or underlying conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Also referred to as olecranon bursitis, elbow bursitis can be uncomfortable and even painful. At OrthoAspen, our skilled orthopedic shoulder and elbow experts routinely help patients find the best treatment for elbow bursitis. It’s our goal to return our patients back to the active lifestyle they’re accustomed to—free from pain and discomfort.

Causes & Symptoms

In addition to traumatic injuries and underlying conditions, elbow bursitis also commonly occurs among those who have occupations that demand crawling motions or long periods of rest directly to the elbows—plumbing, construction, etc.

When the elbow’s large, curved, pointy bone—olecranon—covered by the olecranon bursa, (fluid-filled sac) becomes inflamed, the result is elbow bursitis. The more liquid that fills into the bursa, the more swelling and irritation that develops and persists.

Often, patients with elbow bursitis experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in the elbow area
  • Pain that is typically mild, but increases upon bending and applying pressure to the elbow
  • Warmth and/or redness of the skin surrounding the inflamed bursa

To properly diagnose elbow bursitis, your OrthoAspen physician will review your medical history and symptoms in addition to performing a thorough physical exam. X-rays may be ordered to target the affected area, as well as a biopsy of the bursa fluid to test for infection.

Treatment & Prevention

If it’s determined that bursitis is caused due to an infection, your doctor may recommend removal of fluid from the bursa with a needle, followed by prescribed antibiotics.

Elbow bursitis not caused by infection can usually be treated with conservative treatment methods, which include:

  • An elbow pad to cushion the elbows
  • Avoiding activities that place direct pressure on the swollen elbow
  • Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling or an injection of corticosteroid medication directly into the bursa to relieve pain and swelling

In the event a non-surgical option may not be effective in easing the symptoms of elbow bursitis, an OrthoAspen surgeon may suggest surgically removing the bursa.

To help prevent elbow bursitis, the elbow can be protected from excessive friction with elbow pads, especially in the event an occupation or activity requires that you lean on your elbows.

If you’d like to learn more about elbow bursitis or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our OrthoAspen experts, please contact us anytime at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400