Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is located on the posterior side of the elbow (there are also bursas in other places, all of which improve gliding functions, such as in the knee or shoulder for example). A typical swelling is at the elbow. The bursa is often swollen into a lump. In the acute stage, the bursa inflammation is very painful and the elbow is hot, a state termed acute bursitis.

The cause can be an injury from falling onto the elbow. Bacteria can enter the bursa through even a small laceration, leading to infection and inflammation. Immediate surgical removal of the infected bursa may be required. In less dramatic cases, immobilization in a cast and antibiotic treatment can suffice.

Mechanical overstimulation or blunt injuries can also lead to bursitis, which is referred to as chronic bursitis. This may not be as painful but is equally uncomfortable. Treatment consists of cryotherapy and cold compresses. If the pain is severe, the bursa can be punctured. This rapidly improves symptoms, however, the bursa often fills up with fluid again and additional puncturing is required. In the case of persistent symptoms, immobilization in a cast can be necessary and sometimes surgical removal is also required.

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