Olecranon Bursitis

What is it?

Olecranon Bursitis is an inflammation of the sacs of fluid on your arm that allow your elbow to move. This causes elbow pain and may also be called a “Popeye Elbow.

Olecranon Bursitis

What Causes It?

Olecranon bursitis occurs when the small fluid-filled cushions (bursa) that sit between the elbow bones, muscles and tendons swell and become inflamed. The most common causes of inflammation are:

  • A direct blow to the elbow that causes the bursa to produce more fluid.
  • Prolonged pressure on the tip of the elbow when leaning on a hard surface gradually leads to swelling in the bursa.
  • A bacterial infection in the sac may lead to inflammation due to:
    • Injury
    • broken skin due to a wound, scrape or insect bite
  • Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout can lead to olecranon bursitis.
Olecranon Bursitis


Symptoms of elbow pain include but are not limited to:

  • Pain when moving the elbow
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth


  • Several questions will be asked about the elbow pain (location, intensity, aggravators/relievers).
  • A few simple tests can be done to see the strength and movement of the elbow joint.

While the above steps can quickly diagnose olecranon bursitis, an x-ray scan may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Also, your doctor may request a fluid test to determine the cause of bursitis.


Treatments for olecranon bursitis include:

  • Fluid drainage from the elbow (if due to an infection)
  • Antibiotics (if due to an infection)
  • Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation
  • Rest the elbow from pressure
  • Use an ice pack to reduce the swelling
  • Steroid injection for temporary pain relief for severe or chronic cases
  • Surgery to remove the bursa for severe or chronic cases

How long until I get better?

Get early treatment to avoid more damage to the elbow and prevent recurrences, so the condition does not become chronic.

Tips and Tricks

  • Modify Activities That Require You To Put Pressure On Your Elbow.
  • Use Elbow Pads To Give Protection, Especially When Leaning On The Elbow Is Unavoidable.

For all your Olecranon Bursitis needs, feel free to give us a call on 02 9793 8840 or Book Online