Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

My husband is a carpenter and developed elbow swelling after I dug a splinter out from the back of the arm. It wasn't a very big sliver but he's got a 101-degree temperature today and says it feels like he has the flu. The elbow is swollen and red. What kind of home treatment can we apply?

Answer:

Symptoms such as you describe (swelling, red joint with fever) may be an indication of a systemic infection that requires immediate medical attention. Any opening in the skin causes a small injury and infection of the skin over the bursa can then spread down into the olecranon bursa. A bursa is a sac made of thin, slippery tissue. Bursae (plural) occur in the body wherever skin, muscles, or tendons need to slide over bone. Bursae are lubricated with a small amount of fluid inside that helps reduce friction from the sliding parts. The olecranon bursa allows the elbow to bend and straighten freely underneath the skin. The olecranon bursa can also become infected or septic. The sack fills with pus, and the area around the bursa becomes hot, red, and very tender. If the skin is infected too (a condition known as cellulitis), fever, chills, low blood pressure, and even confusion and other signs of mental impairment can develop. With the history and type of symptoms you described, it might be best to seek medical attention first. A delay of even 24 to 48 hours while applying a home treatment could mean surgery instead of a simple antibiotic. Joshua M. Abzug, MD, et al. Septic Olecranon Bursitis. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. June 2012. Vol. 37A. No. 6. Pp. 1252-1253.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.

Our Specialties

Where Does It Hurt?

Our Locations

  Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on YouTube
Follow us on Twitter