Sports Injuries

Updated 10 November 2016

Bursitis of the elbow

Rugby players often break their falls with their elbows if they are holding onto the ball.


What is bursitis?
Below the tip of the elbow is a sack of fluid called a bursa. The bursa helps to lubricate the movement between tendons and bones in the elbow joint.

Rugby players often break their falls with their elbows if they are holding onto the ball. If a player lands hard on his elbow, the bursa can become inflamed or bleed. The result is a painful swelling on the back of the elbow.


  • Pain to the touch, but not when moving the elbow
  • Swelling on the back of the elbow.
  • Limited mobility in the elbow.

What you can do

  • Rest and apply ice
  • See a sports injury specialist or doctor
  • Wear elbow guards

Other related articles:
Painkillers (Paracetamol)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
COX-2 specific inhibitors
Different Steroids
Cortisone injections


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Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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