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suddenly noticed a golf ball sized lump on my elbow,

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Posted on Tue, 5 Mar 2019
Question: suddenly noticed a golf ball sized lump on my elbow, I don,t recall hitting it on anything, no real pain, just a little stiffness The lump is soft in nature and slightly pink , only noticed it about a hour ago .
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (22 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
can you send pictures please?

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

This could be a number of things including inflammation of the bursa, or a soft tissue infection of the skin (cellulitis)- particularly if it is hot to touch. Treatment for the two would be different from each other.

Can you upload (using the "upload reports" button/tab) some pictures of it? Two pictures from different angles would be ideal.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (53 minutes later)
No , it is not hot to the touch at all , Its on my right elbow, I am right handed if that makes any difference
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
probably olecranon bursitis

Detailed Answer:
Thank you for sending the photo - that helps.

If it is not hot or painful, it is most likely to be olecranon bursitis. The bursa is a pocket around a joint, and in this case, fills with fluid. This happens most often due to pressure on the elbow such was if people sit with pressure on their elbow on a surface, such as propping one's head up. It can also happen with exertion on the elbow.

Less common cause is infection - and for that you would need to have some of the fluid aspirated and an antibiotic.

Inflammatory conditions such as gout can cause it too, but this is usually painful.

So - my best guess is that this is olecronon bursitis and probably from force on the elbow.

If you can tolerate NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, you can take 400 mg 3 times a day (after eating to decrease the risk of stomach irritation) for 5 days to decrease inflammation. I also recommend protecting the elbow - decrease use of that arm and protect the elbow from force. If you do any kind of manual work, you may need to entirely immobilize it until the swelling goes down. If not, make sure not to lean against that elbow.

If the swelling gets worse instead of better, OR if you develop signs of infection (redness, hot to touch, pain), then don't wait: go in to an urgent care clinic or ER where it can be assessed quickly.

I'm providing a link (requires copy/paste into your search bar) that tells a bit about olecranon bursitis.

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/elbow-olecranon-bursitis/

I hope this helps and please let me know if I can provide further clarification.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Kampana
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3138 Questions

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suddenly noticed a golf ball sized lump on my elbow,

Brief Answer: can you send pictures please? Detailed Answer: Hello and welcome, This could be a number of things including inflammation of the bursa, or a soft tissue infection of the skin (cellulitis)- particularly if it is hot to touch. Treatment for the two would be different from each other. Can you upload (using the "upload reports" button/tab) some pictures of it? Two pictures from different angles would be ideal.