What is olecranon bursitis?

Olecranon bursitis is a most prevalent form of elbow bursitis. The condition involves inflammation of the bursa positioned over the tip of the elbow or olecranon process.

It is important to note that the olecranon bursa can end up inflamed by the rubbing of the triceps muscles or tendons which results to friction against the ulnar bone. The injury can develop due to trauma from a fall or contusion related to sports.

The injury might also have a gradual onset from repetitive trauma to the bursa when engaging in certain activities such as pitching or throwing or even from excessive leaning on the elbow. Additionally, it is a secondary injury linked to chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.


Discomfort and swelling over the rear region of the elbow.


One or several of the following symptoms might arise such as:

  • Discomfort and swelling over the rear region of the elbow
  • Pain when leaning on the elbow
  • Pain is intensified when the elbow is used especially when straightening or fully flexing the elbow

Management of olecranon bursitis

  • For the inflamed bursa, the daily application of ice packs can help lower the swelling and pain.
  • Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be given but it is best to consult a doctor first.
  • One shot of corticosteroid along with a local anesthetic directly into the bursa might be needed to stimulate the healing process.

Surgery is not usually required for olecranon bursitis. Nevertheless, in persistent cases, the removal of the bursa might be carried out.

Always bear in mind that muscular weakness or fatigue is a possible cause of olecranon bursitis. This requires improving the strength and endurance to prevent a recurrence.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on olecranon bursitis is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage joint conditions by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.


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