Elbow Bursitis (Student’s Elbow)

Students Elbow bursitis

Elbow bursitis, also known as Students elbow or Olecranon bursitis, is swelling and inflammation of the bursa at the back of the elbow. Here we explain the symptoms, causes, and treatment for elbow bursitis.

Symptoms

Symptoms may come on rapidly from direct trauma, or develop over time with repetitive stress.

  • The most obvious sign is a painful swelling at the back of your elbow.
  • You will be unble to place weight on your elbows, for example when resting them on a desk or table.
  • If the bursa is infected, then your skin may appear red and feel warm.
Elbow bursitis

What is Elbow bursitis?

Elbow Bursitis

A bursa is a small sack of fluid which found in joints. They are located between tendons and bones. The purpose of a bursa is to prevent friction between the tendon and bone which helps lubricate movement.

Inflammation or bleeding into a bursa can cause it to become inflamed and painful. Olecranaon bursitis is the medically accurate name, but it is also know as student’s elbow. This is because repeatedly leaning on your elbows whilst studying may result in this injury.

What causes Elbow bursitis?

Direct impact can cause Olecranon bursitis. However, repeated minor trauma from leaning on your elbows also causes the bursa to become inflamed.

Wearing elbow pads or elbow guards helps prevent injury, especially in sports such as Cricket, Baseball or Football.

Treatment

Treatment involves reducing pain and inflammation whilst protecting your elbow.

Cold therapy

Rest and apply ice or cold therapy. The helps reduce pain and inflammation. Apply a cold compression wrap for 10 minutes every hour, or until the pain and swelling have gone down.

Elbow support

Wear a padded elbow support to protect the inflamed bursa, especially for activities where you put pressure on your elbow for long periods. Avoid leaning your elbows at a desk or table.

Medication

A doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.

Aspirate

Aspirating the bursa is where your doctor inserts a needle into the bursa and sucks out the fluid.

Injections

In severe cases, your doctor may immobilize the arm or give a steroid injection.

Surgery for Elbow bursitis

If conservative treatment fails then you may need surgery to remove the bursa.

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