Olecranon Bursitis

Pathophysiology

A bursa is a small, thin fluid filled sac which prevents friction between structures. Normally the bursa remains flat, but if irritated more fluid will accumulate and cause bursitis. It can be caused by direct trauma, or prolonged pressure e.g. leaning on the elbow. Other medical conditions which are associated with olecranon bursitis are rheumatoid arthritis and gout

Symptoms

  • Swelling of the bursa on the point of the elbow
  • Pain with direct pressure e.g. leaning on the elbow
  • If swelling is severe this may lead to restriction in elbow movement

Management

  • Activity modification
  • Ice or heat
  • Pain relief
  • Physiotherapy to include range of movement exercises and strengthening exercises
  • Elbow pads may be useful in occupations where it is difficult to avoid pressure on the elbow

Investigations

  • Generally not appropriate unless infection suspected

Exercises to try:

Elbow

Wrist Flexion Exercises 

With your forearm rested on a table and wrist/hand over the edge 

With your palm up to the ceiling (with or without a weight)

Bend your wrist up and slowly return to the starting position

Wrist extension

Wrist Extension Exercise 

Sitting next to a table with your forearm supported 

Your wrist and hand should be over the edge (with or without a weight)

Palm facing downwards

Slowly raise your wrist up and return to the starting position

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