A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions joints between the tendons and bones. Olecranon bursitis occurs when the olecranon bursa becomes inflamed and swollen.
Olecranon bursitis is caused by trauma; infection; prolonged pressure; or by conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (swollen, stiff and painful joints) and gout (a type of arthritis).
Swelling, which restricts elbow movement, often followed by pain. If the bursitis becomes infected the skin may become warm and infection may spread, causing serious illness.
After a medical examination and discussion of your symptoms, you may be offered an X-ray to confirm a diagnosis and check for bone fragments or bony lumps around the joints (also known as bone spurs or osteophytes).
Non-operative treatment: this includes aspirating (removing the fluid from) the bursa along with
resting the elbow. If there is an infection, you will also be prescribed antibiotics; otherwise you may be able to relieve your symptoms using elbow pads, modifying your activity levels, and taking anti-inflammatory medication if this is advised by your doctor. If your symptoms continue, you may be offered a steroid injection to reduce inflammation.
Surgery: if the bursa is infected and antibiotics aren’t working, you may need surgery to remove the bursa. It will usually then re-grow but without the inflammation. If the bursa is not infected you may still need surgery if your symptoms don’t improve; this can usually be done as an outpatient procedure.