Olecranon bursitis can be a painful and debilitating condition that affects the elbow joint. If you’re suffering from this condition, you may wonder if any effective treatment options are available. Well, you’re in luck! Physiotherapy has been proven to be a highly effective treatment for olecranon bursitis, helping to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and promote healing.
When it comes to treating olecranon bursitis, physiotherapy offers a holistic approach that focuses on symptom relief and addressing the condition’s underlying causes. By incorporating various techniques such as manual therapy and exercise prescription, physiotherapists can help alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and improve the overall function of the elbow joint.
Whether you’re seeking pain relief or a long-term solution, physiotherapy can provide the support and guidance you need to regain full function and live a pain-free life.
What is olecranon bursitis?
Bursae are tiny sacs of fluid found throughout the body. These bursae produce synovial fluid and act to reduce friction between muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones as they move over each other.
Bursae are located at strategic points, typically where there are higher points of stress.
If a bursa is injured or irritated, it can become inflamed, painful, red and swollen; this condition is called bursitis.
One commonly affected bursa is the olecranon bursa, which sits just over the hard bony process at the base of the elbow.
Olecranon bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursa at this point and is a common condition, particularly in men between the ages of 30-60.
Common causes of olecranon bursitis
Olecranon bursitis has several causes, including trauma, overuse and infection. A sharp blow to the elbow, through a fall or hit, might damage the bursa leading to bursitis.
In other cases, bacteria can infect the bursa, which enters the body through a small skin tear.
Bursitis can also develop slowly through friction of the nearby muscles that cause the bursa to become irritated and inflamed.
Common symptoms of olecranon bursitis
The hallmark of this condition is a painful, red, swollen elbow. Typically pain is worst when resting on the tip of the elbow and with elbow movements, particularly when bending or straightening the elbow fully.
The pain often lasts a few months and may not go away.
The pain may build up gradually or suddenly, depending on the cause. Bursitis caused by infection (septic bursitis) may also be associated with general feelings of illness, such as fatigue, fever and body aches.
Physiotherapy treatment for olecranon bursitis
This condition has many different causes, so accurate diagnosis is essential. Your physiotherapist can distinguish between olecranon bursitis and similar conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Septic bursitis must be treated by a medical professional who will determine the best course of action.
All types of bursitis can be managed initially with a RICE protocol to reduce pain and swelling (Rest, ice, compression and elevation).
Mechanical causes of bursitis can require more in-depth identification of the factors that may have led to the development of this condition.
Common contributing factors are throwing technique, muscle tightness and weakness and training frequency. Your physiotherapist can address these factors, plus provide taping support to unload the bursa, along with manual therapy and an exercise program.
In most cases, conservative or non-surgical treatment is attempted as the first line of treatment. If this is unsuccessful, cortisone injections often reduce pain and inflammation.
In severe cases where the pain persists despite all other attempts at treatment, the bursa can be surgically removed in a procedure called a bursectomy. Once the pain has subsided, your physiotherapist is also able to help prevent any further recurrence.
Preventing olecranon bursitis
The best way to prevent olecranon bursitis is to take the necessary steps to protect your elbow from trauma and wear protective gear when doing activities that require repetitive motion.
You should also ensure that you perform proper warm-up exercises before engaging in any activity, especially those involving repetitive motions.
Stretching and strengthening exercises can also help prevent this condition.
If you are prone to bursitis, your physiotherapist can work with you to design an exercise program to ensure your elbow is kept in top condition.
Final thoughts on physiotherapy for olecranon bursitis
Physiotherapy offers a holistic and practical approach to treating olecranon bursitis. By addressing the underlying causes, reducing pain and inflammation, and improving the range of motion, physiotherapy can help you regain the full function of your elbow and get back to doing the activities you love.
Furthermore, it is vital to seek medical attention quickly if you suspect or experience olecranon bursitis symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce the symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing.