Elbow Bursitis (Olecranon)
Article by Dr. Darren R Keiser MD
Bursae are thin, slippery sacs located throughout the body that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues. They contain a small amount of lubricating fluid that allows the skin to move freely over the underlying bone.
The olecranon bursa lies between the loose skin and the pointy bone at the back of the elbow called the olecranon. Normally, the olecranon bursa is flat. If it becomes irritated or inflamed, more fluid will accumulate in the bursa and bursitis will develop.
Swelling is often the first symptom. The skin on the back of the elbow is loose, which means that a small amount of swelling may not be noticed right away.
As the swelling continues, the bursa begins to stretch, which causes pain. The pain often worsens with direct pressure on the elbow or with bending the elbow. The swelling may grow large enough to restrict elbow motion.
If the bursitis is infected, the skin becomes red and warm. If the infection is not treated right away, it may spread to other parts of the arm or move into the bloodstream. This can cause serious illness. Occasionally, an infected bursa will open spontaneously and drain pus.
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Article URL: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00028