Olecranon Spur

The olecranon is the most proximal part of the ulna, which is one of the two bones in the forearm. an olecranon spur is an extra bony prominence on the point of the elbow, which is present in some people. theses spurs result from an enthesopathy (bony ossification) of the triceps tendon where it inserts onto the olecranon.

Olecranon spurs are common in males who do heavy manual labour, such as heavy machine operators and saw-mill workers. True fracture through the olecranon spur must be rare; most would be expected to occur with disruption of the triceps tendon.

Most people are not even aware they have an olecranon spur, as the majority do not cause any symptoms. On occasion, the spur might crack, as it is weaker than normal bone and result in pain. this can be bothersome when bending and straightening the elbow and when leaning on the point of the elbow. if this is the case you may require treatment to alleviate the symptoms.

How are Olecranon Spurs Diagnosed

Most commonly they are incidental findings when an X-ray of the elbow is taken as they do not usually cause any problems.

You should not be worried if a spur is seen on an X-ray. On occasions, you might have pain over the point of the elbow with an associated spur it may be worth seeing Prof Imam or a member of the team to discuss whether any treatment is necessary. Prof Imam may request a CT scan of the elbow however, usually, an X-ray is enough to evaluate the problem.

What are the treatment options for an Olecranon Spur?

If there are symptoms associated with the spur, we would recommend simple measures initially. These include painkillers and modifying activities that bring on the pain.

A cortisone injection might be considered but this can lead to problems with the triceps tendon. In the uncommon situation where there is persistent pain associated with a fracture of the spur, surgical removal of the spur is an option. This is done through a small incision over the point of the elbow. Surgery is done as a day case and you may require a splint on the arm for 2 weeks after which you can return to full function in a graduated manner.

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