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  • Elbow bursitis
  • Student’s elbow
  • Draftsman’s elbow
  • Miner’s elbow

  • 726.33 Olecranon bursitis

  • M70.20 Olecranon bursitis, unspecified elbow


  • Localized inflammation of the olecranon bursa, which is a subcutaneous bursa at the olecranon process of the elbow
  • Bursa fills with blood and serous fluid as a response to either acute or repeated microtrauma
  • Presents as pronounced, local swelling, isolated to the posterior elbow

Essentials of Diagnosis

  • Olecranon bursitis (OB) is a result of single episode of trauma or repeat trauma to the posterior elbow when the elbow is in a flexed position
  • Commonly related to occupation or specific activity that causes rubbing or pressure on the posterior elbow from a hard surface
  • Swelling is contained to olecranon bursa which results in the visualization of an “egg” appearance at the posterior elbow
  • Patients often note focal pain to palpation of swollen bursa, decreased range of motion, or inability to don a long-sleeved shirt
  • Differential diagnosis is essential due to prevalence of infections in this area
  • Exquisite swelling, marked tenderness, and redness or heat may be indicative of differential diagnosis

General Considerations

  • Isolated diagnosis related to acute or chronic activity (pressure to the posterior elbow by a hard surface) and focal swelling/pain to the olecranon bursa
  • Marked tenderness or swelling with acute onset may signal underlying fracture
  • Redness or heat may be indicative of infection


  • No reports identifying or limiting demographics. Incidence related to activity.
  • Occurs primarily in adults, but can occur in children and athletes of any age
  • Chronic cases often associated with occupation (miner) or prolonged activity (student), which places posterior elbow on hard surface
  • Acute cases often associated with acute blow to the posterior elbow when flexed (athletes)

Signs and Symptoms

  • Point tenderness to the posterior elbow
  • Focal swelling to the posterior elbow
  • Stiffness of elbow
  • Pain with rubbing or light pressure to posterior elbow (wearing long sleeve shirt)
  • Pain with focal pressure (leaning on desk with bent elbow)
  • Elbow range of motion can be reduced, either flexion, extension, or both
  • Pain and swelling can be either insidious or acute
  • Occasionally, swelling can be spontaneous and without pain
  • Possible reduction in strength due to pain and inflammation

  • Difficulty with dressing, grooming, reaching due to decreased elbow range of motion
  • Pain with sitting or leaning postures due to contact on the posterior elbow
  • Pain with movements of the hand and wrist
  • Difficulties with reaching, grasping, or pushing activities

  • Occupations or activities that involve repeated contact of the posterior elbow on hard surface (e.g., bartender, office, student)
  • Direct trauma to the posterior elbow with elbow flexed
  • Sporting activities ...

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