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Olecranon bursitis

Olecranon bursitis is an inflammation of the dorsal bursa at the elbow.

Three  different types of olecranon bursitis exist: acute, chronic, and septic.

1. Acute:

Caused by direct trauma to the bursa.

Usually hemorrhagic bursitis that causes swelling within a few hours.

Often seen in sports such as football, wrestling, and volleyball.


2. Chronic:

This  is most common form and is caused due to repetitive trauma or rubbing of the bursa.

Bursal linings become thickened by fibrosis.

Also may be caused by systemic inflammatory processes (eg, rheumatoid arthritis) or crystal deposition disease


3. Septic:

Develops due to superimposed infection of acute or chronic olecranon bursitis.

Develops from skin wounds, dermatitis, or hematogenous seeding.

This picture shows relevant anatomy of Olecranon bursitis
Olecranon bursitis anatomy


There is gradual or acute onset of localized swelling and inflammatory signs over the olecranon.



Localized tender fluctuating swelling over the olecranon but no effusion of the elbow.


  • Ice
  • NSAIDs
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Avoidance of repetitive elbow movements
  • Frequent monitoring
  • Aspiration
  • Antibiotics

Surgery: Bursectomy is performed for refractory cases that limit activity