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Why do you get a student elbow?


Between the elbow and the skin there is a thin, slightly fluid-filled membrane (mucous sac or bursa) which ensures that there is a glide between the skin and the skeleton at the back of the elbow. Olekranon is the Latin name for the elbow tip and bursitis means inflammation of the mucous membrane. If you lean on your elbows a lot, as for example students can do, hence the name student elbow, then an irritation of the mucous sac can occur and it becomes fluid-filled. If you feel the elbow, it feels and looks a bit like a liquid-filled bag sitting inside the skin around the tip of the elbow. Swelling of the elbow can also occur if you happen to hit your elbow

If you have had abrasions, eczema or psoriasis in the elbow region, you can also get a bacterial infection in the bursa. In these cases, you are often increased in heat and a reddening of the skin can be seen in the area.

Treatment of student elbow - Alta Vita


Symptoms of olekranon bursitis


Often this does not hurt much. You can be a little sore on the elbow when pressed. It can tense in the area when bending the arm. The exception is if you have a bacterial infection which can cause pain.

As the swelling on the elbow can be marked and noticeable, it can be the biggest reason for seeking help.

Treatment at student elbow


Provided that the elbow is swollen, the patient has no pronounced pain and the function of the elbow is good, you have suffered a student elbow. Then it is recommended to relieve the elbow and not support it against the ground. A light compressive elbow pad can be good, partly to hold back the fluid and partly to protect the elbow from shocks and mechanical pressure. If the swelling has recently occurred, this will usually be the initial treatment. If the swelling has not decreased in a couple of weeks, we can with the help of  ultrasound diagnostics  guide a needle into the mucous sac and empty it of fluid (aspirate). Compression bandage is to recommend the days after surgery. If the swelling returns, the following emptying of the mucous sac can be combined with one  ultrasound-guided cortisone injection.

If there are signs of bacterial infection with redness, fever and pain, the patient is referred to a doctor for aspiration and possible culture of the fluid. Sometimes this is treated with antibiotics. In a few cases that are difficult to heal, the bursa can be removed. 


Physiotherapy at Alta Vita Physiotherapy

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