Improving Results For Elbow Bursitis

This article is the second in a 12-part series on aspiration (removing fluid) and injection of corticosteroid into various joints. The focus of this report is the elbow.

Elbow pain from bursitis can be treated effectively with aspiration and steroid injection. Specific how tos are included. A diagram of the anatomy and where to place the needle is provided. The authors show specific points to place the needle.

Finding the joint space is often easier when it is inflamed. But asking the patient to turn the palm up and down can also help. The bursa (gel cushion over the joint) can be injected directly or via a zig zag approach.

In the zig zag method, the needle does not enter the bursa directly. Instead it is inserted at an angle. Once the tip of the needle has passed through the skin and first layer of tissue, it is turned toward the bursa. Then the needle is placed into the bursa. This approach reduces the chances of cortisone leaking.

The authors describe the supplies needed and review the elbow surface anatomy. Patient position and exact steps of the procedure are also included. They suggest giving the patient a sling to wear for 24-hours after the injection. This may help keep the steroid in the elbow and keep it from spreading.

References: Joseph R. Lutt, MD, et al. Aspiration and Injection of the Elbow and Olecranon Bursa. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. August 2007. Vol. 24. No. 8. Pp. 352-353.