28 Sep A Short Overview for Olecranon Bursitis (Popeye Elbow) Treatment and Cause
The fluid-filled sac which lies between the loose skin and the elbow tip is called Olecranon bursa. This fluid-filled sac helps the joint in moving freely and smoothly. In case the Olecranon bursa gets infected or inflamed, the condition is called bursitis.
Bursitis can result in fluid buildup, pain and even restriction of movement. Olecranon bursitis is also known as Popeye elbow. The bump which develops in the rear side of the elbow looks very similar to the popular cartoon character called Popeye and thus the name Popeye elbow. According to pain management Doctors, preventing the major causes of Olecranon bursitis can help in alleviating the problem.
Major Causes of Popeye Elbow
There are basically three major causes of Popeye elbow and they are:
- Inflammatory conditions resulting in severe inflammation. The inflammation can also be caused due to the pressure exerted on the bursa. Inflammation of the bursa is considered one of the most common causes of Popeye elbow.
- Sudden blow or injury to the elbow resulting in fluid buildup or profuse bleeding.
- Infections caused due to injury at the location of the bursa; injury in the tissue close to the bursa and the one that spreads to the bursa or a blood-borne infection. Here, you must note that blood-borne infections are quite rare.
Symptoms of Popeye Elbow
Common Olecranon bursitis symptoms include:
- A feeling of pain when pressure is exerted on the elbow or in moving the elbow.
- Swelling: A certain lump might be felt in the rear side of the elbow which is affected. The lump or the swelling is the cause of increased fluid in the bursa. The lump gets tender when touched or with movement.
- Red streaking, fever, warmth, swollen lymph nodes and redness caused in the area around the armpit due to the infection.
Diagnosing Olecranon Bursitis
Doctors use the medical history of a patient and a physical exam for diagnosing Olecranon bursitis in the patient. X-rays might be needed if the inflammation or the swelling is caused due to an injury. This helps the doctors in determining whether the elbow has been fractured or not. In case the doctor finds that there is some form of infection in the elbow, he or she will drain some fluid out of the elbow by making use of a needle. This elbow fluid will later be tested in a laboratory for possible infections.
Treating Olecranon Bursitis
Immediate treatment for acute or sudden Olecranon bursitis involves draining excess fluid within the sac found in the elbow. This is done with the use of a needle. Post this, the doctor injects some injections containing medicines into the sac. This helps in decreasing inflammation and in promoting healing.
Chronic or ongoing Olecranon bursitis is treated by teaching the patient to avoid using his or her elbows or leaning on the elbows. The patient is also taught about the importance of protecting the elbows while practicing sports by using anti-inflammatory medications and elbow pads. The infection is also treated using antibiotic medicines. Surgery is the last possible treatment required for draining or completely removing the bursa.
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