Students Elbow

Student’s elbow or olecranon bursitis (baker's elbow/swellbow/water on the elbow) is a condition where there is swelling, redness and inflammation of the bursa that protects the bone at the posterior side of the elbow. Traumatic injury or repetitive blows to this area causes pain and swelling at the posterior side of the joint.

About Student’s Elbow or Olecranon Bursitis

A bursa is a fluid filled sac which acts as a cushion between bones and tendons and the muscles surrounding the joint to reduce friction between the bones and allow free joint movement. Inflammation of the bursa can result from sudden force e.g. getting hit by a ball or from recurrent friction. The condition is also called as student's elbow because students lean on their elbows frequently while studying resulting in inflammation of the bursa.

Students Elbow or Olecranon Bursitis

Symptoms of Student’s Elbow or Olecranon Bursitis

  • Pain in the elbow during exercise and at rest.
  • Pain starts from the elbow joint and may spread to the rest of the arm.
  • Swelling is present on the posterior side of the elbow.
  • Restricted elbow movements.
  • Redness and warmth of the skin.

Prevention of Student’s Elbow or Olecranon Bursitis

  • Elbow guards should be worn while playing games such as cricket where the chances of getting hit on the elbow are more.
  • Prolonged periods of leaning on the elbows should be avoided.

Treatment of Student’s Elbow or Olecranon Bursitis

  • Rest should be taken.
  • Ice or cold therapy should be applied to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Patient should see a sports injury professional.
  • Antiinflammatory medications like ibuprofen helps in relieving pain and inflammation.
  • The doctor may aspirate the bursa to remove the pus or excess fluid within the bursa.
  • The arm may be immobilized.
  • Steroid injections can be given.
  • For a severe injury, surgery may be required.
  • Exercise or rehab program should be started after healing is complete to improve range of motion.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: August 30, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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