Question:My favorite auntie has elbow bursitis so badly she can no longer play cards -- and that gets her out of the house and with friends. What can be done to help her?
Answer:As you have seen, elbow bursitis can be a very painful condition. But it can be treated. It doesn't have to be disabling.
The first step is to make an appointment with her physician. It's best to make sure of the diagnosis. Sometimes what seems like bursitis can really be a septic (infected) joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can also bring about similar symptoms. The treatment depends on the exact problem.
Elbow bursitis can be caused by acute or repetitive trauma. The doctor will help identify what actions might be contributing to her symptoms. Modifying, but not necessarily eliminating, such activities can help.
If it turns out that she truly has an elbow bursitis, she may benefit from a steroid injection. The doctor uses a needle to remove any fluid build-up. Then an antiinflammatory drug (steroid) is injected directly into the joint or the bursa.
Motion may be limited for a day or two to help keep the steroid in the joint. After that, patients are advised to resume normal activities but not to overdo it. She may be given some stretches and exercises to do to help prevent the bursitis from coming back.Joseph R. Lutt, MD, et al. Aspiration and Injection of the Elbow and Olecranon Bursa. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. August 2007. Vol. 24. No. 8. Pp. 352-353.
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