The buildup of fluid in the elbow is a condition known as elbow bursitis. The bursa is a lubricated sac that is positioned between the tip of the elbow and the overlying skin. The bursa helps minimize the friction in between the bones and muscles, skin or tendons during various movements. Infection or injuries can cause the bursa to become irritated, swollen and filled with pus or fluid that results to several undesirable symptoms.
The inflammation is one of the initial indications of elbow bursitis. Acute or chronic irritation or even infection can trigger the fluid to engorge within the bursa sac. Once this occurs, it causes swelling on the rear part of the elbow. Due to the folds of loose skin on the back part of the elbow, the swelling is not evident for some time.
As the fluid accumulates, the inflammation increases and can appear as a “goose egg” over the tip of the elbow bone. In some circumstances, the bursa can grow large enough that it limits full movement of the elbow. The chronic inflammation triggered by repeated injury or recurrent infection can result to the thickening of the folds of tissue in the bursa. The dense tissue can be oftentimes felt under the skin as small bumps or nodules or there is a feeling that something is floating around the area.
Tenderness and pain
Some individuals can develop inflammation on the rear part of the elbow that does not trigger pain, but some can experience minimal to severe pain at the elbow tip. It is important to note that the elbow can become extremely tender that it is hard to place it down on a table or other surface. Even extending or retracting the elbow can trigger pain.
The infection due to elbow injuries or by superficial skin infections that extends down to the olecranon bursa can result to detrimental symptoms that affect the entire body. In most cases, an abscess can form on the elbow while the bursa is filled with pus instead of fluid.
The surrounding area of the elbow turns red, warm, streaked and tender to the touch. As the body attempts to fight off the infection, the individual might also end up with fever and chills. If treatment is delayed, the abscess will start to drain and seep pus. The infection can also spread to other parts of the arm or body, thus those who experience any signs of infection must seek immediate care in order to avoid serious complications.