A swollen elbow may be caused by injuries, tendinitis, arthritis, or bursitis. Elbow swelling can be extremely painful and cause the joint to become stiff and tight, and it may even cause significant limitations in a person's range of motion in serious cases. Typically, ice is used to treat a swollen elbow at the first sign of injury or inflammation. Other treatments may include anti-inflammatory medications, rest, splints or other support devices, and in severe cases, surgery.
Anti-inflammatory medications are often use to help reduce swelling in the elbow. These medications usually work quickly to reduce the inflammatory process and relieve discomfort. Occasionally, swollen elbow pain may be so severe that a medical professional may recommend prescription analgesic medications. Frequently, however, these medications are codeine-based, and although they are highly effective in treating pain, they may cause significant side effects.
Generally, rest is also recommended to treat a swollen elbow. Normally, this is an effective treatment in relieving inflammation because it eliminates pressure that is put on the hand. It often can be difficult for a patient to keep his arm at rest, however, and braces and splints can helpful tools to immobilize the affected elbow, thereby reducing the risk of further injury or swelling. Another alternative is wearing a sling, which can allow your the elbow to heal and decrease the risk of a further damage.
Usually, it is not a good idea to massage or apply direct pressure to your swollen elbow in an effort to relieve pain or swelling, since this may make symptoms worse. Occasionally, if a swollen elbow does not respond to other treatments, a medical professional may attempt to drain fluid that has collected in the joint. Typically, this fluid is caused by bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursa, a sac of synovial fluid in the joint. Draining it may greatly reducing swelling in the elbow.
Occasionally, the standard efforts to treat a swollen elbow may be ineffective. When the patient is not responding to non-invasive treatments, a healthcare professional may recommend surgery, including possibly removing the affected bursa. Often, elbow surgery is performed on an outpatient basis; the patient may require an inpatient stay and general anesthesia, however, if the surgical procedure is anticipated to be more extensive.