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Elbow (olecranon) bursitis

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Elbow (olecranon) bursitis quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your elbow (olecranon) bursitis.

Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Most cases of elbow bursitis can be treated at home.
  • Try rest, ice, and taking ibuprofen (Advil).
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • Your elbow bursitis does not start to improve after 2–3 weeks of home treatments
  • You may also want to see a physical therapist to help strengthen and improve range of motion.
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting
  • Severe pain when moving the elbow
  • Redness, warmth, swelling, or drainage from the joint

Elbow (olecranon) bursitis quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your elbow (olecranon) bursitis.

Take elbow (olecranon) bursitis quiz

What is elbow bursitis?

Elbow (olecranon) bursitis is inflammation and swelling of the elbow bursa, which is a thin fluid-filled sac at the tip of the elbow. The bursa can’t usually be felt or seen unless it becomes inflamed and swollen.

If the swelling is mild, you may not have any pain. But, sometimes, with more swelling, there can be pain or the back of the elbow may have a soft, golf ball shaped bump over the back of it.

Olecranon bursitis can be caused by a variety of factors such as elbow injury, infection, arthritis, leaning on the elbow too much, and strain from overuse.


  • Swelling in the back of the elbow
  • Pain in your elbow
  • Fever, warmth, and/or red discoloration if it’s infected


Treatment usually includes avoiding activities, wearing a brace, and taking antiinflammatory pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil).

Ready to treat your elbow (olecranon) bursitis?

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The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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