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How to Treat Elbow Bursitis

How to Treat Elbow Bursitis


You can treat elbow bursitis with ice, elevation, compression, and medication.  Relieving the pain requires immobilization and treatment.

What Is Bursitis?

A bursa is the body’s way of providing cushion for joints like the elbow. The cushion is a flat, rubbery sac that prevents friction between the adjoining bones. When that cushion becomes irritated and inflamed, you develop a painful condition known as bursitis. Inflammation can occur due to trauma, infection or repetitive use such as playing tennis.

How Do You Treat Elbow Bursitis?

Ice. Apply ice to the elbow at the onset of the pain. This helps to reduce the inflammation. Ice can be a pack or use a bag of frozen vegetables. Wrap the cold object in a towel before letting it touch the skin. Keep the ice pack in place for 20 minutes, and then reapply at least four times for the first two or three days.

Elevation.  Keep your arm elevated on pillows while the elbow heals. Ideally, the elbow should sit above your heart. Maintain the elevation while you ice the affected arm, as well.

Compression.  Ask your physician or medical professional about using a compression bandage. This involves applying an elastic wrap starting above the elbow and extending just below it. The bandage helps stabilize the joint to reduce movement. The compression will aid in reducing the swelling too. If the wrap feels too tight or your hand starts to tingle, slide your fingers under the cloth and pull to loosen the compression.

Medication.  If you feel no relief from home treatment, or if the bursitis recurs often, your doctor needs to rule out infection as the source of the inflammation. It is critical to get a medical evaluation of the area in case you need to take antibiotics. An untreated infection can lead to more serious medical problems and damage to the joint.



“Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis- OrthoInfo – AAOS.” AAOS – OrthoInfo. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2012.



“Elbow Bursitis – Care Guide.” | Prescription Drug Information, Interactions & Side Effects. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. <>.



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