Your elbows are busy little beavers. While you may not think of them as much more than something to put on the table while you’re eating, they’re joints doing a lot of heavy lifting for the upper body.
But the problem with the elbow is that it’s a complex joint, making it susceptible to all kinds of injury and a variety of conditions. This focus of this post is how to determine if your arm pain is elbow bursitis.
What Is It?
Located around all our joints are bursae. These little sacs of fluid act as buffers, keeping the bones and skin apart.
Where there are joints, there’s friction and the bursae act to mitigate the effect of this.
Right at the tip of the elbow, you’ll find the olecranon bursa. You won’t know it’s there because it’s flat and follows the form of the elbow bone.
But when that bursa is unhappy, it swells up. That’s bursitis.
While bursitis can be instigated by many causes, it usually develops following a trauma to the elbow. Another common cause is repetitive motion, including lifting your arms over your head while they’re bent and leaning on your elbows.
Athletes who play tennis and baseball are more likely to develop the condition, due to the repetitive motions of the arms involved in play.
If your elbows feel warm to the touch and are abnormally sensitive, it’s possible that you’ve got bursitis. As the bursa begins to become inflamed, the joint will be stiff.
While these symptoms can be seen in other conditions affecting the elbow, you’ll know it’s bursitis if you experience serious swelling at the tip of the elbow. A fair-sized lump (not unlike a golf ball) will form. It’s sometimes the case that the lump may begin to secrete pus, as the infected bursa drains.
One of your best bets for treatment is working with a physical therapist. Together, you’ll ascertain which activity has caused your bursitis and then, look at methods to reform the way you’re using your arms while performing them, to prevent re-injury and get relief from the pain.
You’ll also learn how make your elbow stronger and how to gently stretch it. Your physical therapist will also review items like how to lift things properly, without putting undue pressure on your elbows.
At the heart of repetitive motion injuries is a bio-mechanical challenge which can be addressed with the support and knowledge of a physical therapist. Your part is to follow instructions and do your exercises.
Back & Body Medical
At our state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Manhattan, you’ll find award-winning multi-disciplinarian care. We draw on the disciplines of chiropractic, sports medicine, acupuncture and physical therapy, with the goal of relieving pain and restoring you to full function.
If you have bursitis occasioned by trauma or repetitive motion, come talk to us. Our team is here to find the ideal solution to your pain, resolve it and then set you on a path toward a stronger, bursitis-free future.