Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis occurs when the bursa, a sac allowing smooth movement of the skin over the bone, becomes inflamed and fills with fluid. This can be caused from a trauma such as direct hit to the elbow, repetitive strain placed on elbow from pressure, or also caused by infection or certain medical conditions such as arthritis.

Signs and symptoms of an Elbow Bursitis may include:
  • Swelling or fluid over the tip of the elbow
  • Pain at the tip of the elbow
  • Pain increases when pressure is put on the tip of the elbow
  • Some limited movement in elbow
  • When inflamed or infected, the skin is red and warm to the touch

The doctor may recommend icing, elevating and resting the elbow to reduce swelling in the area. This also may be used in conjunction with a special pad to provide cushion to the elbow.

Fluid Removal

When there are signs that the bursa is infected, the doctor may suggest aspirating (removing fluid) from the area. This provides a lab sample for infection testing and also can relieve pain and swelling, or if it is obviously infected, the doctor would proceed to surgery for incision and drainage.


Anti-Inflammatory medications may reduce pain and inflammation associated with this condition. When the bursa is infected, an antibiotic may be prescribed to fight infection.


Corticosteroid injections to the affected portion of the elbow can provide short-term pain relief and reduced inflammation in the joint, when medication is ineffective or not an option.


When conservative methods fail to relieve the problem in severe cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the bursa or address the problem.