Understanding Your Olecranon Bursitis Diagnosis

Understanding Your Olecranon Bursitis Diagnosis

Swelling, redness, and pain in the elbow are all signs of a problem. One potential cause is olecranon bursitis.

At Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Metairie, Louisiana, Robert Douglas Bostick III, MD, is an expert in treating orthopedic conditions, including olecranon bursitis. In this blog, he explains what olecranon bursitis is and some of the ways it can be treated.

The basics of olecranon bursitis

Bursa are tiny fluid-filled sacs in your joints that keep your muscles and tendons from rubbing against your bones. Olecranon bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when a bursa in your elbow becomes swollen and sore, which can occur for various reasons, such as the following:

Bursitis can result from an injury, a slow-growing infection, or constant pressure on your elbow joint over time. Because you have extra skin around your elbow, you may only notice the symptoms of olecranon bursitis if the condition becomes severe.

Although infections cause some cases of olecranon bursitis, most cases are due to trauma or repetitive pressure on the elbow joint.

The main symptoms of olecranon bursitis

The symptoms of olecranon bursitis can depend on how long you've had the condition and the root cause of the problem. Common signs and symptoms of bursitis include the following:


If olecranon bursitis is caused by an infection, redness often develops around the elbow joint. If you notice redness and other symptoms in your elbow, you should seek treatment right away, because an untreated infection can spread and cause a more severe illness.


Inflammation and swelling are common responses to illness and injury. If you have olecranon bursitis, you may notice swelling in your elbow.


An infection in the bursa can cause redness and warmth around your elbow. If the redness spreads, this could be a sign that the infection is growing.


As the skin around your elbow swells, you may feel pain from the bursitis. If the pain and swelling become severe, you may not be able to move your elbow as you normally would.

Treating olecranon bursitis

Dr. Bostick provides both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for olecranon bursitis. In most cases of mild or moderate olecranon bursitis, Dr. Bostick begins with nonsurgical treatments, such as rest, immobilization of your elbow, and anti-inflammatory medications.

However, if your condition is due to an infection, or your symptoms don't resolve in a few weeks of home care, Dr. Bostick may recommend draining the excess fluid from the bursa in your elbow. He may also recommend getting a steroid injection to help ease the inflammation in the joint. And, if your condition is due to an infection, he may prescribe antibiotics.

If none of these treatments work, he may recommend surgery. During surgery for olecranon bursitis, Dr. Bostick removes the bursa in your elbow, which then relieves the discomfort and inflammation. Surgery is reserved for severe cases and is an outpatient procedure.

If you have olecranon bursitis and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have the condition or something else, Dr. Bostick can help. To learn more, call 504-541-5800 or book an appointment online with Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine today.

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