When we look at the bend midway up the arm, we know it as the elbow and that’s about it. However, there are different structures that make up the elbow. If you feel the outer aspect of your elbow, the point that you feel is the olecranon. This bone is a part of the ulna and the piece that attaches to the triceps muscle at the back of the upper arm.
Sometimes, swelling and pain localize around the olecranon. This could indicate a fracture but, in many cases, pain and swelling are a sign of olecranon bursitis. Symptoms may develop after a known injury or may occur without an obvious cause. Bursitis is a condition in which inflammation develops in a bursa sac, a type of tissue that produces fluid in order to facilitate smooth movement. The olecranon bursa enables the skin to move over that bony point of the elbow as the arm bends and straightens.
What Might Cause Olecranon Bursitis?
There are three common reasons that the olecranon bursa may become inflamed.
A bump against a hard object or fall to the ground in which the pointy part of the elbow is hit could lead to traumatic bursitis. The term actually makes this injury sound worse than it is. People who develop traumatic bursitis may not lose function of the elbow joint. They can likely still bend and straighten the elbow without intense pain or much stiffness. Treatment for this type of olecranon bursitis may include rest, ice, compression wrapping, or splinting. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove accumulated fluid by aspirating the bursa.
Inflammatory and Infectious Bursitis
Inflammatory and infectious bursitis share certain symptoms, which may include pain, warmth, and redness. It is critical to determine the true cause of symptoms to obtain appropriate treatment. Inflammatory bursitis may occur secondary to the joint inflammation that results from autoimmune conditions or gout. Infectious bursitis may originate in the olecranon bursa but may spread to other parts of the arm. Prompt and proper treatment is vital to avoid more extensive effects of this infection. If redness is accompanied by tenderness and warmth, it is best to obtain a medical evaluation in which fluid can be examined under a microscope.
Our specialists are familiar with the intricate nature of the elbow joint and surrounding tissues. To schedule an examination of elbow pain and swelling, call (973) 942-1315.