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Bursitis is an
inflammation of small sacs of fluid (bursae) that help joints move smoothly.
Olecranon bursitis, which affects the olecranon bursa at the back of the elbow,
is sometimes called Popeye elbow. This is because the bump that develops at the
back of the elbow looks like the cartoon character Popeye's elbow.
There are three
general causes of olecranon bursitis:
Symptoms of olecranon bursitis may include:
Your doctor can likely diagnose olecranon bursitis from a medical history and
physical exam. If the swelling is the result of an injury, X-rays may be
necessary to determine whether the elbow is fractured.
doctor is concerned about an infection in your elbow, he or she
may drain fluid from the elbow with a needle and have the fluid tested by a
sudden (acute) bursitis may include drainage of excess fluid in the sac with a
needle, followed by injections of medicines into the sac to decrease
inflammation and promote healing.
Treatment for ongoing (chronic)
bursitis focuses on teaching you to avoid leaning on your elbows,
protecting your elbows during sports activities with elbow pads, and using
anti-inflammatory medicines. Antibiotic medicines may be needed to treat
infection, and surgery may be needed to drain or remove (excise) the
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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