Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Elbow Bursitis

Elbow Bursitis is an inflammation of the olecranon bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions the bony tip of the elbow joint.

Common Symptoms

  • Swelling and lump at the back of the elbow
  • Pain or tenderness around the affected area
  • Limited range of motion
  • Warmth and redness over the swollen bursa

Cause & Anatomy

  • Repetitive stress or trauma to the elbow joint
  • Prolonged pressure on the elbow (leaning on hard surfaces)
  • Repetitive bending and straightening of the elbow
  • Injury or trauma to the elbow
  • Inflammatory conditions like gout or rheumatoid arthritis

The olecranon is the bony tip of the elbow. The olecranon bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions this bony prominence, allowing the skin to smoothly glide over it during elbow movements.


  • Physical examination
  • X-rays to check for fractures or bone spurs (if injury is suspected)
  • Aspiration and testing of bursa fluid (if infection is suspected)


  • Avoiding activities that exacerbate the condition
  • Using elbow pads or cushions when leaning on elbows
  • Warming up before exercise and stretching
  • Strengthening muscles around the elbow joint


  • Rest and immobilization of the elbow
  • Cold compresses to reduce inflammation
  • Elevation to minimize swelling
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Compression bandages
  • Aspiration and corticosteroid injections (if home remedies are ineffective)


  • Surgery is rarely needed but may be considered if:
  • Symptoms persist despite non-surgical treatment
  • There is a severe infection not responding to antibiotics
  • The surgery involves removing the inflamed bursa.

Rehabilitation After Surgery

  • Splint or brace to compress the elbow while healing
  • Range of motion exercises after the initial healing phase
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the joint muscles


Is elbow bursitis contagious?
No, it is not contagious unless caused by an infection.

How long does it take to recover?
Most cases resolve within 3-6 weeks with proper treatment.

Can elbow bursitis be prevented?
Yes, by avoiding repetitive friction to the back of the elbow and using elbow pads.

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