Best 5 Exercises for Elbow Bursitis

The most common name for elbow bursitis is called Olecranon bursitis. The olecranon is the bony bump at the bottom of your elbow. Another name for elbow bursitis or olecranon bursitis is called student’s elbow. As you can imagine, resting the bottom of your elbows on a desk for repeated periods of time could irritate a sac of fluid in the elbow called the bursa. When the bursa becomes inflamed, then you have bursitis.

When the bursa becomes inflamed, you may experience pain, swelling, and stiffness. The most prevalent cause of elbow bursitis is repetitive or prolonged pressure on the elbow, such as prolonged leaning on hard surfaces. It can also be caused by a direct elbow injury or an underlying medical condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or an infection.

Examples of elbow bursitis symptoms include:

  • Inflammation and soreness around the elbow.
  • Ache or discomfort during elbow movement.
  • Elbow stiffness or limited range of motion.
  • Redness or heat surrounding the affected region.
  • A lump or bump at the elbow.

Typically, elbow bursitis is diagnosed with a physical examination of the affected elbow and imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to rule out other possible causes of elbow pain and swelling.

The treatment options for elbow bursitis include:

  • Resting the affected elbow and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition are recommended treatments.
  • Applying cold (or occasionally heat) to the affected area to reduce pain and swelling.
  • At Surrey Physio, we can aspirate excess fluid from the bursa using a needle and syringe in an aseptic method.
  • Supporting the affected region with a compression bandage or elbow pad.
  • Physiotherapy to improve the elbow's range of motion and strength

In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove the inflamed bursa sac or to treat the underlying cause of elbow bursitis.

If you experience symptoms of elbow bursitis, you should speak to us at Surrey Physio as early treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes. We help the majority of people with elbow bursitis can recover completely and return to their normal activities without pain or discomfort if they receive the appropriate treatment and management. We may need to aspirate the elbow if the bursa is large.

Best 5 Exercises for Elbow Bursitis

1. Ice the bottom of your elbow

Use an ice pack or pack of frozen peas (wrapped in a thin towel) over the bottom of your elbow. Please note, the video shows it over the lateral side of the elbow, so just move the ice pack to the base of the elbow. Apply for 10 minutes, and repeat three times per day for at least four weeks.

2. Apply compression

Use a tubigrip elbow support or cohesive compression bandage and wrap it around your elbow. It should be supportive, but not too hard to cause tingling in your fingers. The strap can help reduce inflammation if your elbow is swollen helping to reduce the olecranon bursitis. Apply for several hours at a time.

3. Assisted Elbow Flexion

Bend your elbow, and when you get to the end of range of the movement, gently apply some overpressure using your other hand. This exercise will help improve mobility to your elbow. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, and repeat three times.

4. Elbow Extension

Rest your elbow on your thigh, and straighten your arm as much as possible. Apply overpressure using your other hand. You will feel a stretch in the biceps muscle and around the back of the elbow joint, and this will help straighten a stiff arm. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, and repeat three times.

5. Forearm Stretch with Elbow Extension

Place your hand on a table with your fingers pointing towards you, and straighten your arm. This exercise helps stretch the forearm flexor muscles. It can help improve elbow extension too, which can be useful with olecranon bursitis. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, and repeat three times.

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For more info on olecranon bursitis, check out this guide:

If you are a patient, in pain, or suffering with Elbow Bursitis, please call us to discuss your case further. Surrey Physio have an amazing team of therapists to help you recover from pain, and get you back to living a normal life. Call us on 0208 685 6930 or click the link at the top to book online.)