Swelling at the elbow joint can have many causes. Olecranon bursitis is one of them. The olecranon is the tip or end of the elbow joint. Bursitis describes the inflammation of the bursa (a sac of fluid in the joint that decreases friction).
Anyone who spends a lot of time leaning on the tips of their elbows is at particular risk for this sometimes painful condition. An injury or broken skin leading to infection can also cause it.
Local tenderness and swelling are common signs and symptoms associated with this type of bursitis.
Your orthopedic doctor may take images of your elbow to rule out bone spurs and foreign bodies. He or she may want to take a small amount of fluid from the bursa to see if gout or infection play a role.
Conservative treatment includes the use of ice, compression, anti-inflammatory medications, and avoiding direct contact and impact. Surgery is very seldom recommended except in chronic conditions, and even then is often only for cosmetic purposes.