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Bursitis of the Elbow


Although this may sound like something from bygone days, it is a very painful⎯and common⎯condition. Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the fluid-filled sac located on top of the rotator cuff. Keep reading to learn more.

Causes & Triggers

  • Gout
  • Hard blow to tip of elbow
  • Infection of bursa caused by bite, scrape or wound
  • Repetitive and prolonged motion or pressure:
  • Throwing a ball
  • Lifting an object overhead
  • Leaning on elbows (especially with occupations like plumbing and HVAC)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trauma

Signs & Symptoms

  • Aches
  • Pain (especially when applying pressure)
  • Redness and warmth (may indicate infection)
  • Restricted movement
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

Tips & Treatment

  • The usual treatment protocol includes one or more of the following:
    • Aspirating (removing with a needle) the fluid
    • Injecting a corticosteroid into the bursa
    • Modifying occupational and/or daily activities
    • Surgically removing the bursa
    • Taking anti-inflammatory medication(s)
    • Using elbow pads or cushioning
  • If the bursa is infected, seek immediate medical attention to prevent spreading the infection to the bloodstream.

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