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Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, US Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
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Swollen Elbow Filled With Fluid

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My left elbow is swollen and I have no pain at all. It feels like it has been filled with water. When you look at it, the skin looks like a small balloon filled with water and you can feel the liquid inside. Is this a sign of something worse to come or did I injure it and did not feel pain when I did? I don't have any pain, just numbness when I place my elbow on the car arm.


How long have you had this swelling?
Have you ever injured your elbow (in previous years?)

Dr Abby

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Not long, maybe two days. Ever since I rented a car with a combo metal, cloth elbow rest with a hole in the middle which is made of metal. It was uncomfortable since the elbow sank inside the rest and it kind of hurt. My right elbow is normal.

Thank you for the information,

What you likely have is called Olecranon Bursitis. This is swelling of the fluid filled sac that is located at the tip of the elbow. This sac helps to allow the skin to move fluidly over the underlying bone.

The sac can become inflamed and irritated for several reasons--infection (usually in this case, you will have redness, tenderness and pain), trauma/injury (such as a hard blow to the elbow), arthritis (rheumatoid or gout) or from prolonged pressure to the elbow (which may be the the source in your case).

Since it has only been a few days, this may resolve on its own with anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen or Aleve (if you can take these), ice application and elevation of the elbow.

If it does not improve over the next few days, see your doctor. The next step would be to remove the fluid with a needle. Your doctor will probably also inject a steroid at the same time. A pressure bandage is applied afterwards in order to help prevent reaccumulation of the fluid.

This is not usually a sign of something worse to come, so try not to worry.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions.

Dr Abby

Dr. Abby and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thanks for the help. I feel relieved that your answer matches my own reasoning..

Again thank you.

Mario E

You are very welcome!

Take care,

Dr Abby