Back of my elbow pain…Is this Olecranon Bursitis?
What is Olecranon Bursitis?
A 35 year old carpenter came to our clinic complaining that the back of his elbow was swollen and very tender/painful after banging it on a kitchen cabinet during installation. After conducting a health history and detailed physical examination, we determined that this was a case of olecranon bursitis.
What causes Olecranon Bursitis?
A fall, hit, bang or blow to the back of the elbow, repeated weight bearing, improper exercise technique or dragging of the elbow to the ground may cause swelling, inflammation, pain and pooling of edema in the elbow bursa thus causing olecranon bursiitis.
Think of it this way…subdivision and cities often have areas where water collects and distributes during flooding, heavy rainfall or snow melt. When heavy rain covers our streets it collects in a city catch basin. The bursa is the elbow’s catch basin for when inflammation, edema or swelling occurs. It, the bursa, fills up and allows our body to slowly take it away through the lymphatic system and out of our bodies through urine/excretion (similar to a sewage system which ends up distributing the water into larger areas of water outside of the city/subdivision).
What are Signs and Symptoms of Olecranon Bursitis?
Olecranon bursitis is the size of a goose egg. The olecranon is the surface of bone at the end of the ulna bone (elbow). It is very difficult to miss since it looks abnormal and may present with redness and feel tender to the touch. It must be differentiated from gout and/or kidney failure which present similarly in the elbow and other joints. Infection is another condition to rule out – however, it typically occurs near an open wound.
How do I treat olecranon bursitis?
At our clinic we treat olecranon bursitis with support tape, along with ice therapy, ultrasound therapy, laser therapy and advice about what activities to avoid. If the bursa is infected, we refer out for aspiration or antibiotic therapy. Our chiropractic and physiotherapy team, reviews the area and assesses the range of motion of the elbow before determining which treatment could be most effective.
Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, HBSc., D.C. & Associates