Elbow Bursitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Elbow pains, injuries, and other issues associated can be extremely painful and they can affect the overall hand and arm movement. Going to an orthopedic surgeon should be your action if you feel the symptoms of bursitis. Here is everything you need to know about elbow bursitis and how to treat it.

What Is Elbow Bursitis?

Your bones don’t just have muscles, tendons, and cartilage on them. There is a lot of movement of your bones and one thing which helps with the friction between the joints of the bone and Bursae. Bursae are small sacs filled with fluid and they are normally present near your joints. They act as cushions between the joints, tendons, and muscles and they aid in movement as well. Now, these sacs can sometimes get pierced or damaged, which may cause them not to perform well and this can lead to a lot of problems.

Elbow bursitis is a condition where you will feel immense pain in your elbow, whenever you try to move or bend it near the joint. This is because the Bursae or the fluid sacs are not able to cushion the movement anymore, because of being damaged and this can cause the joints to rub and grind against the muscles, tendons, and even other bones, which can be quite painful and it can also lead to the inability of movement of the elbow, altogether.

Elbow bursitis can occur on the lower part of your elbow, which is the very place where the olecranon sac is located. Due to damage to this sac, elbow bursitis is also known as olecranon bursitis. The olecranon sac is usually flat, but it helps to cushion and protect the bone and joint from impacts and trauma. If these sacs get damaged, deflated, or pierced, then there is a huge problem and you will not be able to move your elbow, the way you normally do.

Causes Of Elbow Bursitis

Here are some possible causes of elbow bursitis:

An Accident

You can damage your olecranon sac by getting into an accident. An accident that has impacted your arm and elbow too much, can lead to piercing of the sac and this can make your elbow quite stiff, and constant pain will be the norm.

Excessive Pressure On The Elbow

If you lean on your elbow a lot, then this can also cause problems in the olecranon sac. A lot of people have a habit of putting unnecessary pressure on the elbow by putting their entire weight on it and this can lead to swelling in the sac, which in turn, might be extremely painful, whenever you try to move your elbow too much.

Sports Injuries

If you play sports, then bursitis is a very common condition a lot of athletes have to deal with. There is a lot of sports trauma that can affect the sacs, like falling on your elbow too hard, swinging your hand with a lot of force while playing a ball sport, and more. Get in touch with your sports medicine doctor Woodbridge.


There might be an infection externally, which can lead its way to the Bursae and it can cause swelling in the sac because of contamination.

Certain Exercises

Doing certain exercises can also affect the Bursae. The plank pose and push-ups, for example, are two exercises that put a lot of impact on the elbow and this can lead to swelling or damage in the sacs.

Symptoms Of Elbow Bursitis

Here are some symptoms of elbow bursitis, which are important to know so that you can exactly pinpoint what you’re dealing with. This will make selecting the treatment option easier.


You will feel a lot of stiffness in your elbow. The movement and bending of your elbow won’t be as fluid and you will have a hard time moving it.


You will see a lot of swelling on your affected region, typically on the lower side, because that’s where the sacs are, and because of trauma or injury, the swelling will be visible. It is one of the most common symptoms of elbow bursitis.


This symptom is pretty obvious. You will feel immense pain in the area that’s swollen. Usually, when the swelling gets worse, the Bursae as well as the areas surrounding it, will start to stretch, and this can lead to a lot of pain, to the point where you can’t even move your elbow without feeling excruciating pain.

Sometimes, the sacs can get so swollen, that they can start poking the muscles, tendons, and even other bones, which will also cause a lot of pain, whenever you try to move your elbow.

Redness And Tenderness

There will be redness and a feeling of tenderness around the elbow area. When the sacs are swollen, it’s going to cause the blood flow to be constricted to that area and this is what will cause redness.

There are a lot of nerve endings in your elbow region as well and if blood flow is constricted for too long, then it might lead to a tingly sensation in your elbow region along with tenderness, which can feel quite unpleasant and you will have a hard time moving your elbow and arm. These sensations can also radiate up and down your whole arm.

Treatment For Elbow Bursitis

Now that you know the symptoms and causes of elbow bursitis, here’s how you can treat it, to feel better.

Before going into the treatment, it’s important to know how bursitis is diagnosed by a doctor. They will usually conduct a physical examination and have a look at your elbow. If it’s showing signs of swelling or deformity, then it’s bursitis for sure. As an extra measure, an x-ray can also be done to double-check whether it’s bursitis or not. After an x-ray, treatment options, and procedures can be further discussed.


If the sac needs to be removed because it got infected, then a syringe will be injected into your elbow and the infected fluid can be drained out, in order to reduce the swelling.


The sac can also be removed surgically. This surgical treatment is done by having an incision made in your elbow and the sac is pried out. This process doesn’t affect any muscle or tendon and it’s quite quick.

Elbow Pads

As far as non-surgical treatments are concerned, you can go for elbow pads, which are strapped on your elbow to help cushion the bone and make you feel less pain. This is done when the bursitis is in its early stages and there is minimal pain and swelling.


You can also take oral medication to help get rid of the pain and swelling. These medications are normally taken once or twice a day, depending on the intensity of the pain and how much you can handle it.


Doing some light exercises can also help with the pain. Stretching or some other form of movement may alleviate the pressure on the elbow and this can also prevent bursitis from occurring in the future.


There you have it! Elbow bursitis can lead to a lot of pain and it’s not pleasant to deal with at all. Now that you know what it is and how it’s caused, you can visit an elbow specialist Woodbridge for treatment and to prevent it from occurring too often as well.

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