Olecranon spur

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 15 Dec 2021

Olecranon spurs are extra-articular enthesophytes at the posterior portion of the proximal olecranon within the superficial aspect of the central triceps tendon insertion.

Olecranon spurs are commonly seen in patients with conditions such as triceps tendinopathy, olecranon bursitis and gout. It is also believed to be more prevalent in patients who have a history of elbow trauma, or those who partake in repetitive forceful elbow extension activities 1

Olecranon spurs can be found in asymptomatic individuals or in patients who present with posterior midline elbow pain. 

The spur often curves upwards and possesses a faint radiolucent line at the base, which is thought to be due to the spur's developmental process as the calcified fibrocartilage thickens and forms small osseous nodules that over time will fuse 1,2. Careful inspection of the base is therefore warranted to ensure it is not fractured 3.

In the case of an incidental finding, one should look for secondary signs of inflammation such as swelling, or clarify if the patient has midline posterior elbow pain, as the patient may be asymptomatic.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: triceps tendon enthesopathy
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  • Case 2: triceps tendon enthesopathy
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  • Case 3: with olecranon bursitis
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