Olecranon Bursitis

Olecranon Bursitis Treatment for Chronic Elbow Pain

Many joints within the body contain a special component called a bursa sac, which allows the bones and tissues of the joint to move smoothly in conjunction with one another. One common problem with these sacs is that they can easily become overused, irritated, and inflamed. When this occurs, it is known as a case of bursitis.

The elbow is one such joint that has a bursa, which is located on the outward pointed curve of the ulna, otherwise known as the olecranon. Swelling in this area is typically a result of a common condition treated by our hand surgery specialists called olecranon bursitis.

Causes of Olecranon Bursitis

Elbow bursitis can form in many ways. Most often, this condition is either the result of an injury to the bursa, prolonged pressure on the bursa, or it is caused by an underlying health issue. It is also entirely possible for an individual to encounter olecranon bursitis without ever linking it to a direct cause.

Signs and Symptoms

Regardless of its exact source, many people will begin to notice significant amounts of swelling at the tip of their elbow that stems from bursitis of the area. Other common symptoms include mild amounts of pain, and an increased potential for infection to occur. If the bursa does become infected, the elbow will feel especially tender and warm, and may also begin draining away pus.

Diagnosing Olecranon Bursitis

Bursitis of the elbow is often very easy to visually spot, leaving the main questions to be:

  • What is the cause?
  • Is the bursa infected?

Our hand surgeons will often conduct a physical examination in addition to various blood tests in order to answer both of these questions. They may also recommend getting an X-ray done if they suspect that a bone spur on the elbow may be the source to the patient’s discomfort. An infected bursa will require more comprehensive treatment, but thankfully, a source does not have to be identified in order to effectively treat a patient’s bursitis.

Treatment Options in Houston, TX

Traditional methods of treatment begin with the most minimally invasive options available, and gradually work up to surgical treatment if the bursitis persists.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Many cases of olecranon bursitis are caused by long term and progressive damage to the bursa from poor habits like leaning the elbow against a hard surface. This can be corrected using pads to protect the elbow, as well as anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling. Some patients may also find relief by opting for corticosteroid injections in the bursa.

Your physician may also remove some fluid from the bursa in order to test it for signs of an infection. Such an infection will typically require antibiotic injections to the area. The removal of this fluid should also help to temporarily relieve the individual’s symptoms.

Surgical Treatment

The final option to treating olecranon bursitis is to remove the bursa entirely. Surgical removal of the bursa is often recommended for patients who sustain frequent infections or cases of olecranon bursitis, or those that remain unresponsive to other treatment options. This procedure is quite simple, and only takes a few weeks to achieve a full recovery.

Contact Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas Today

If you are struggling with swelling and possible pain of the elbow, please schedule an appointment with one of our physicians today to discuss diagnostic testing and potential treatment options.

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Clear Lake, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown