Bursitis is the pain and swelling of bursa—small sacs of fluid that help joints move. Elbow bursitis, also known as olecranon bursitis, affects the boney tip of the elbow. This condition is more common in adults than children.

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What are the signs and symptoms of elbow bursitis?

  • Swelling
  • Pain (often worsened with pressure)
  • Redness, warm to the touch

What causes elbow bursitis?

  • Trauma (e.g., a hard blow to the elbow)
  • Prolonged pressure (e.g., leaning on the tip of the elbow for long periods)
    • Develops over several months

How is elbow bursitis diagnosed?

  • Physical exam
  • X-rays if necessary
  • Possible fluid testing

How is elbow bursitis treated?

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s injury. There are several non-surgical options to treat elbow bursitis:

  • I.C.E. – Rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Activity modification or restriction
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., ibuprofen)
  • Antibiotics if needed
  • Elbow pads
  • Needle aspiration

Surgery is only necessary in more severe or complicated cases. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s can determine the right plan to treat your child’s elbow bursitis.