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Elbow Bursitis Treatment



Does constant elbow pain due to bursitis test your patience? No more pain hereafter! It is time to gain a pain-free life by opting for our non-surgical state-of-the-art regenerative therapies that help to repair and regenerate the damaged tissues.

Olecranon bursa is a synovial fluid-filled sac present under the skin at the elbow’s bony tip. It acts as a cushion to reduce friction between the bones and the tendons. Elbow bursitis occurs due to the inflammation of olecranon bursa, which in turn secretes excess synovial fluid causing lump formation from the pointed elbow’s bony tip. Olecranon elbow bursitis is otherwise called as Popeye’s elbow, student’s elbow or miner’s elbow.

The causes of elbow bursitis include:

  • Arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis
  • Elbow trauma or injury
  • Gout
  • Psoriasis
  • Leaning on the elbow for a prolonged duration
  • Excessive pressure on the elbow
  • Infection leads to septic bursitis
  • History of bursa inflammation

Certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more susceptible to develop septic bursitis. Similarly, young people as well as mid-aged people who perform labour jobs, elbow crawls for military drills or take part in sports are likely to have septic bursitis.

The symptoms of elbow bursitis differ depending on the causative factor.

The common symptoms include:

  • Pain during movement
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Restricted joint movement in severe cases
  • Fever or chillness in case of bursitis infection
  • Warmth especially in septic bursitis

In case of a hard blow to the elbow, symptoms may occur at once. Or else, they usually develop slowly and worsen over time. Often, symptoms like swelling may go unnoticed since it is difficult to see the back of the elbow.

Only by analysing the severity of the symptoms, physicians can easily determine the exact cause and suggest the right treatment method. Hence, the physicians may recommend medical imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI, ultrasound, or fluid aspiration for easy diagnosis to prevent bursitis from becoming chronic. Additionally, a blood test of bursa aspirate fluid can check the presence of infection or inflammatory conditions. After performing the diagnosis, treatment may start.

Elbow bursitis treatment in UK always goes stage wise, including both non-surgical and surgical methods.

Initial treatment includes home remedies for elbow bursitis that focusses on limiting the activities that may aggravate the bursal inflammation. Hence, physicians recommend R.I.C.E. Formula (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) as a home treatment.

  • Rest: Wear elbow pads for extra cushion effect and avoid putting any extra pressure by leaning on the elbows. This activity modification step can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Ice therapy: Apply ice therapy on the injured elbows 2-3 times for 10-20 minutes per day to reduce symptoms. But remember not to apply ice directly on the skin. Place a cloth between the ice and the affected area to stay away from getting an ice-burn.
  • Compression: Wear an elastic compression bandage around the affected part to alleviate the swelling.
  • Elevation: Place the affected elbow above the height of your heart to reduce inflammation

Your physician may recommend that you perform stretching and strengthening physical exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the elbows. But it is mandatory to wait until the pain gets reduced before starting the physical therapy.

Medications include analgesics as a pain reliever and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation. But its consumption for a long time leads to potential side effects including heart, gastrointestinal, and kidney problems [1]. Hence physicians do not recommend its use every day for a prolonged duration.

Septic elbow bursitis requires oral antibiotic therapy. In the case of other complications, physicians recommend intravenous administration of antibiotics.

Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation and give relief only for a shorter period. But they have potential side effects such as skin degeneration at the elbow region and infection [2]. Hence, physicians give only 1-2 doses of injections with a minimum one month apart. But avoid injecting it into a tendon which may increase the risk of tendinopathy (tendon degeneration) [3].

Surgical intervention: Bursectomy surgery aims at the removal of an affected bursa, rarely recommended by your physician. But it might become the last choice if your symptoms do not improve with non-surgical modalities or if you repetitively suffer from recurrent bursitis.

Regenerative treatment

Minimal invasive regenerative treatment could help you recover from pain by repairing the damaged tissues naturally.

Enhanced Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) treatment for elbow bursitis is an effective non-surgical procedure to reduce inflammation and improve joint function by stimulating your blood’s healing ability. Since Enhanced PRP is rich in platelets and growth factors, it can promote tissue repair [4]. Patients could see significant improvement in symptoms in 1-2 weeks of having Enhanced PRP injections.

Do not let elbow bursitis affect your quality of life! Consider our holistic regenerative treatment approach to bring you permanent elbow pain relief.

If you feel you may benefit from nonsurgical elbow bursitis treatment in UK, please contact us at our London clinic on 020 8 168 2000 or our Ireland clinic on 01 298 8000 to book a consultation or request a callback today! We will take a close look at your case and evaluate if you are a qualified candidate for regenerative therapy.  


  1. Cooper C, Chapurlat R, Al-Daghri N, et al. Safety of Oral Non-Selective Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Osteoarthritis: What Does the Literature Say? Drugs Aging. 2019;36(Suppl 1):15–24. doi:10.1007/s40266-019-00660-1.
  1. Brinks A, Koes BW, Volkers AC, Verhaar JA, Bierma-Zeinstra SM, “Adverse effects of extra-articular corticosteroid injections: a systematic review,” BMC MusculoskeletDisord, 2010 Sep 13;11:206. Review. PubMed PMID: 20836867; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2945953.
  1. Taylor SA, Hannafin JA. Evaluation and management of elbow tendinopathy. Sports Health. 2012;4(5):384–393. doi:10.1177/1941738112454651
  2. Lopez Rodriguez, Yelica. (2015). Healing of bilateral olecranon bursitis using autologous platelet-rich plasma in canine. A case report. ÁGORA DE HETERODOXIAS. 1. 94-107.
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