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What Is Elbow Bursitis?   
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Elbow Bursitis occurs when the bursa - a sac of fluid - sited at the tip of the elbow becomes swollen. The bursa provides cushioning and also reduces friction during elbow movement. It allows the skin to move freely over the bones in the elbow.

The bursa is usually found near the surface of the skin and hence can easily be injured or damaged. This condition results in pain and swelling around the elbow and may be caused by a direct hit or trauma, for example, a fall or direct blow.

It may also result when the individual has a habit of repeatedly leaning the elbows on a hard surface. Older individuals who engage in recurring activities are also more likely to develop this condition.
The elbow joint is formed by three bones. The upper arm bone meets the inner and outer bones of the forearm to form a hinge joint, which allows the elbow to bend and straighten.

The two bones in the forearm allow a twisting up and down movement of the forearm.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of this condition vary from confined joint pain and stiffness to burning pain that surrounds the elbow joint around the swollen bursa.

The condition which may cause pain frequently is worse during and after activity and this results in the bursa and the elbow joint becoming stiff in the morning.

• Pain – this occurs particularly with any movement of the elbow or when there is pressure on the elbow. For example, when the individual pushes the elbow with the tips of the fingers, it can cause pain.

Pain also occurs when you lean on the arm; for example, when the arm is allowed to rest on an armrest or on the edge of a table.

• Stiffness in the elbow joint and difficulty bending the elbow.

• Swelling – this is a lump which may be seen in the back or tip of the affected elbow.

• Night pain may also occur.

• Reduced range of elbow movement also occurs due to swelling or pain.

• Burning sensation in the elbow.

• Difficulty in performing daily activities such as dressing.

• Weakness of the affected arm, particularly as the swelling and pain get worse.

• Some individuals experience a feeling of tightness or loss of motion due to discomfort.

What are the causes?

Particular types of pressure, traumatic blows, or repetitive motions may result in constant friction or irritation of the bursa, leading to its swelling.

• Recurring pressure on the back of the elbow, for example, leaning your elbow on a hard surface for a prolonged period of time

• An infection which may result from an injury around the elbow;

• Overload injuries such as lifting heavy objects or weight training may result in strain and irritation in the elbow.

• Repetitive movements such as playing  tennis or golf.

• Direct trauma (when the individual is hit or falls on the tip of the elbow).

How is diagnosis made?

Elbow Bursitis is diagnosed after an assessment of your medical history and a physical examination is performed. 

Further investigations may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

The x-rays may be essential in order to conclude whether there is a bit of extra bone on one aspect of the elbow or whether a broken bone is present and rule out other damage to the affected elbow.

 Further investigations such as an ultrasound, CT or MRI scan may be frequently required to assist with diagnosis and also assess the severity of the condition.
Source: Daily Graphic

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