Elbow bursitis, also known as Students elbow or Olecranon bursitis, is the inflammation and swelling of the bursa which protects the end of the ulna bone at the back of the elbow. Repeatedly leaning on elbows (like many students do) can cause pain as the bursa can become inflamed. This elbow injury could also be caused by a direct impact. Read more on the symptoms, causes and treatements for this injury.
Elbow bursitis symptoms
Traumatic or repetitive impacts to this area can result in pain and a large swelling at the back of the joint as the bursa swells up. Symptoms include pain in the elbow both at rest and during exercise. There will be a painful swelling on the back of the elbow which most likely limits mobility.
Elbow bursitis explained
A bursa is a sack of fluid which helps to prevent friction between bones and the soft tissue over the top. Inflammation or bleeding into a bursa can cause it to become inflamed and painful. Elbow bursitis may occur from one sudden impact such as being hit by a ball, or from repetitive friction.
The condition is often called student's elbow as repeatedly leaning on the elbows whilst studying can result in this injury.
Elbow bursitis can be prevented by wearing elbow pads or elbow guards for sports where impact to the elbow is possible such as Cricket, Baseball or Football. A padded elbow support should be worn for activities where pressure will be put on the elbow for long periods. Avoid leaning on elbows at a desk or table.
Elbow bursitis treatment
Rest and apply ice or cold therapy. The is to help reduce pain and inflammation. Cold should be applied for 10 minutes every hour until the pain and swelling have gone down.
A doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. Aspirating the bursa is an option in some cases. A needle is inserted into the bursa and the fluid sucked out. In severe cases, a doctor may immobilize the arm or give a steroid injection. If conservative treatment fails then a surgeon may operate for elbow bursitis.