We have many joints in our bodies that break down into three types: synarthroses (or immovable joints), amphiarthroses (slightly movable), and diarthroses (freely movable, also known as synovial joints). The synovial joints include ball and socket joints, hinge joints, pivot joints, and saddle joints.
Discomfort from problems in your joints is common, but the hinge joints like your elbows and knees are common places to experience pain from accidents, falls, or overuse injuries. Elbow bursitis is an example, which causes pain and swelling in your joint and may make it harder to use. But this condition can be managed by reducing pain and swelling, so let’s look at the part of the elbow that leads to this condition, its causes, and how it can be treated.
If you live in the Houston or Spring, Texas, area and you’re looking for ways to manage the pain from elbow bursitis or other joint problems, Drs. Billy Cheong, Kesia Broome, Elias Madrid, Theresa Shaw, and their dedicated team of medical professionals at Elite Spine and Health Center can help.
The function of bursa in your body
The bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your joints need cushions and stabilizers to make movement smoother and easier. A Bursa is an example of this, a small sac of fluid that provides gliding motion, cushion, and lowering friction in joints. Some bursas develop at birth, while others take years to form (the bursa in your elbow doesn’t develop until around age 7).
Causes of elbow bursitis
This small sac can lead to pain and swelling when it gets inflamed, and the elbow bursa, or olecranon bursa, can start presenting symptoms quickly or build over time, depending on the cause. These causes include repetitive motion, infections, constant pressure on your elbows for extended periods, and sudden blows or other elbow trauma.
Repetitive motion is a common reason for this condition and activities like gardening, raking, carpentry, using poor posture, scrubbing, shoveling, and various sports (tennis, golf, baseball) are all things that can lead to elbow bursitis. Bone spurs and arthritis can also increase the risks of this condition.
Methods of treatment
There are many things you can do at home to reduce the pain from this condition, such as:
- Apply ice (best within the first two days of the condition developing)
- Apply heat
- Reduce repetitive actions that cause the condition, or take frequent breaks from them
- Over the counter pain relievers (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs)
- Use an elbow pad
- Rest the joint
Physical therapy can help reduce inflammation and help maintain range of motion, and medications like antibiotics and corticosteroids can help to fight infection and reduce inflammation respectively. Aspiration of elbow bursitis may be necessary, which involves draining the excess fluid from the joint. The bursitis may also require removal if other methods fail to relieve symptoms. With proper rest and rehabilitation, this condition can heal between three to six weeks.
Elbow bursitis can be painful and frustrating, but there are ways to help yourself and we are here to relieve your pain. To be rid of the pain and inflammation of elbow bursitis, make an appointment with Drs. Cheong, Broome, Madrid, Shaw, and Elite Spine and Health Center today.