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Home > Health Library > Olecranon Bursitis (Popeye Elbow)
Bursitis is an inflammation of small sacs of fluid (bursae) that help joints move smoothly. Olecranon bursitis, which affects the olecranon bursa at the back of the elbow, is sometimes called Popeye elbow. This is because the bump that develops at the back of the elbow looks like the cartoon character Popeye's elbow.
There are three general causes of olecranon bursitis:
Symptoms of olecranon bursitis may include:
Your doctor can likely diagnose olecranon bursitis from a medical history and physical exam. If the swelling is the result of an injury, X-rays may be necessary to determine whether the elbow is fractured.
If your doctor is concerned about an infection in your elbow, he or she may drain fluid from the elbow with a needle and have the fluid tested by a lab.
Treatment for sudden (acute) bursitis may include drainage of excess fluid in the sac with a needle, followed by injections of medicines into the sac to decrease inflammation and promote healing.
Treatment for ongoing (chronic) bursitis focuses on teaching you to avoid leaning on your elbows, protecting your elbows during sports activities with elbow pads, and using anti-inflammatory medicines. Antibiotic medicines may be needed to treat infection, and surgery may be needed to drain or remove (excise) the bursa.
Current as ofSeptember 20, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as of:
September 20, 2018
Medical Review:William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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