There is a fluid-filled sac that serves a cushion between your skin and the bony tip of the elbow. It is called the ‘bursa.’ But the bursa can swell and become irritated as a result of repeated pressure on the elbow from leaning on it for an extended period of time which is typical of certain occupations such as plumbing and repair. The condition is called elbow bursitis and there are complications from it.
Early treatment includes the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, but if the symptoms remain and the swollen bursa becomes infected, surgery may be necessary to treat it.
An infected elbow bursa is life-threatening, as the infection can spread throughout the body. Initially, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics, but if the infection does not clear up and the symptoms do not go away, surgery is the only option. Rarely is surgery used to treat a non-infected elbow bursa.
Treating Elbow Bursitis with Surgery
Surgery to treat elbow bursitis involves the targeting of the fluid from the bursa and the removal of the elbow bursa in a drainage and removal procedure. It is a quick,outpatient surgery that requires anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision over the tip of the elbow and drains the fluid from the bursa. If the bursa is inflamed, the surgeon can remove it altogether and then close the incision site with stitches.
Most patients who undergo this procedure can go home on the same day, however, there are some whose doctors require an overnight stay for them to receive an IV of antibiotics until the next day. Patients who undergo surgery for infected elbow bursitis can expect immediate relief from their symptoms, although they may need to wear a sling for at least a week following surgery to keep it stabilized and an elbow pad for a few weeks to prevent injury to the elbow. After getting past the recovery period, patients will find that the removal does not affect the feel and function of the elbow.
If you are concerned about postoperative pain after elbow bursitis surgery, ask your orthopedic doctor about pain-relieving medication and pain management therapies. Also, discuss your expectations from surgery and recovery. With careful planning of your treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation, it should be a relatively pleasant experience free of complications. After a few weeks of rest and rehabilitation, you should be ready to return to normal.
Orthopedic Doctor in San Antonio, TX
If you suspect you have elbow bursitis or if the symptoms do not subsidewith conservative treatment, our orthopedic surgeons at Center for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio today can help. From diagnosis to non-surgical and surgical treatment to rehabilitation, we have everything you may need to live a life free of elbow-pain. To schedule a consultation with experts at elbow bursitis treatment, call (210) 692-7400 or request an appointment online now. Our friendly team of physicians and staff look forward to serving you in our San Antonio facility.