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.
What causes olecranon bursitis?
There are three general causes of olecranon bursitis:
On the night of March 28, 1986, Howard Heit's car was struck in a head-on collision. He left the scene of the serious crash thinking how lucky he was that he hadn't been hurt. "And then four to six weeks later, I started noticing twitches in the muscles of my neck and upper back. These progressed to marked spasms of my neck, shoulders, and upper back," he recalls.
The pain never ceased. All day, every day it plagued him. It became difficult for him to walk -- and almost impossible for him to work...
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.
If your 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 lab.
How is olecranon bursitis treated?
Treatment for 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 bursa.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
February 16, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
February 16, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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