Elbow bursitis causes pain, tenderness and swelling of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that forms under the skin, generally over joints and which acts as a cushion between the tendons and the bones.
In severe cases, a lump could form which juts out from the pointy part of the elbow, this is known as Olecranon bursitis or ‘Popeye’s elbow’.
People who lean on their elbows for prolonged periods such as plumbers are prone to developing elbow bursitis.
Our renowned medical team provides a range of treatments, from the traditional to the innovative:
This is an effective and well-researched procedure that’s a potential alternative to surgery. It takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to reduce pain and improve joint function. It uses a specially concentrated dosage of platelets prepared from your own blood to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone. Patients usually see their symptoms improve in one to two weeks of having the injections. Read more clinical evidence supporting PRP here.
There are several causes of elbow bursitis, these include:
• A hard knock to the elbow
• Leaning on the elbow for a long time
• Arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis
The symptoms of elbow bursitis vary depending on which bursa is affected and what’s causing it. In general, your elbow may be:
• Stiff and swollen
• Painful with movement or when pressure is applied
You may also experience fevers or chills if the bursitis is caused by an infection.
Symptoms may begin gradually and worsen over time or if you had a sharp blow to the elbow, symptoms may develop rapidly.
If your elbow is feeling painful or tender or swollen a doctor will examine the area and ask questions about your symptoms to determine the cause.
You may also be referred for an:
• X-ray – to see if there any other bone problems such as arthritis which could be causing the pain
• MRI – using a magnetic field and radio waves a detailed image of the elbow is created which can reveal subtle changes in the elbow
• Ultrasound – soundwaves are used to produce a detailed image of the swollen bursa
• Fluid aspiration – fluid is extracted from the bursa to test for infection
Treatment for elbow bursitis aims to relieve symptoms and improve the function of the elbow.
Initial treatment may include medications such as analgesics which help reduce the pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDS – which reduce the pain and inflammation and steroid injections which reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief.
If the bursitis is caused by an infection the doctor may prescribe a cause of antibiotics.
Resting the elbow and avoiding activities which cause pain can help with elbow bursitis. You can also help reduce the pain, inflammation and swelling by applying ice to the affected area three or four times a day. If you do this, it’s important to place a cloth between the ice and your skin to prevent you getting an ice-burn.
Compressing the affected area by wearing an elbow pad can also help reduce inflammation and pain.
Your doctor may also advise you to carry out a range of exercises (once the pain has decreased) to strengthen the elbow and improve flexibility.
Our expert team specialises in treating elbow bursitis using advanced non-surgical techniques including stem cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy.
The doctor may aspirate a bursa to reduce the pain and swelling. This involves inserting a needle into the affected bursa and drawing fluid into a syringe.
While surgery to remove an affected bursa is rarely recommended, but it may be an option if your symptoms don’t improve with other non-surgical treatments or if you suffer from recurrent bursitis.
Our experienced consultants will undertake a thorough examination exploring non-surgical and surgical treatments. They’ll also discuss your suitability for our state-of-the-art biological therapies.
Your consultation will be with one of our upper limb specialists, Mr. Ali Noorani, Mr. Matthew Smith or Mr. Oliver Donaldson and will last approximately 30 minutes. You may be asked to attend for an MRI scan, prior to your appointment.
As well as undertaking an examination, our specialists will take details of your medical history and discuss your symptoms. They will also detail all your treatment options and cover their potential benefits and risks.
Our expert team comprises of highly experienced surgeons, sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists who are committed to delivering a high level of care and the correct treatment option so you can quickly get back to moving around.
Autologous translates as ‘from the same person.’ In brief, it involves using your own cells to encourage healing. The major benefits are that there is no chance of rejection, infection or contamination as you are using cells from your own body rather than a donor.
We offer a range therapies based on this principle which can be considered if traditional treatments including surgery aren’t relieving your pain.
Biological treatments are pioneering procedures and we’re continuously monitoring and recording its effectiveness. Patients undertaking these treatments are asked to complete pre-operative and post-operative questionnaires.
The information obtained from these questionnaires allows us to monitor your progress and it also contributes to our evidence-based database and other global studies on biological treatments. All information gathered is anonymised.