Bursitis of the Elbow: (Students Elbow)
Posted in the Top Stories Forum
#1 Jan 4, 2013
Bursitis means inflammation of a bursa. The bursa at the back of the elbow over the olecranon is the commonest bursa to become inflamed. Inflammation causes swelling and extra fluid to be made.
The elbow contains a slippery, fluid filled sack called the bursa to help the skin slide over the bone in that area. The olecranon bursa, covers the olecranon process (the extension of the ulna that fits into the humerous). It lies between the skin of the elbow and the bones of the forearm.
The elbow is formed primarily from the union of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the ulna (forearm bone). The ulna has a bony process situated at the back of the elbow known as the olecranon (figure 1). This bony prominence is a point of attachment of several muscles including the triceps (figure 2) and forms the outer most point of the back of the elbow. Between the olecranon and overlying skin lies a bursa known as the olecranon bursa (figure 1). A bursa is a small sac filled with lubricating fluid and is designed to reduce friction between adjacent soft tissue layers.
The triceps muscle is primarily responsible for straightening the elbow and is particularly active during pushing activities. During contraction of the triceps, friction is placed on the olecranon bursa. Pressure may also be placed on the olecranon bursa following a direct impact. When these forces are excessive due to too much repetition or high force, irritation and inflammation of the bursa may occur. This condition is known as olecranon bursitis.
Causes of Bursitis of the Elbow
o Trauma :Single injury to the elbow, or perhaps more commonly due to repeated minor injuries,
o Normally, the bursa acts as a cushion between the skin and the bone. But if the elbow is hit, or if it is constantly irritated, the bursa can become inflamed and fill with fluid.
o Repeated Injury : Olecranon bursitis can also occur over a longer period of time. People who constantly put their elbows on a hard surface as part of their activities or job can repeatedly injure the bursa. This repeated injury(tennis, golf and even repetitive computer work involving leaning on your elbow)
o Infected: This may occur without any warning, or it may be caused by a small injury and infection of the skin over the bursa that spreads down into the bursa. In this case, instead of blood or inflammatory fluid in the bursa, it becomes filled with pus.
o Medical Conditions: Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout are associated with development of elbow bursitis.
o Pain around the back of the elbow
o Swelling directly over the bony prominence of the tip of the elbow
o Slightly limited motion of the elbow
o Red and hot skin may indicate an infection
o small lumps
o Elbow Stiffness
o pain with motion
o There is also pain near the elbow when the wrist is extended
o Rest: Take a break from whatever activity is causing the elbow to swell or become painful.
o Ice: Apply ice packs for short periods of time (15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day).
o Compression: Wrap an elastic bandage around the elbow to keep swelling down.
o Elevation: Elevate the elbow above the level of your heart.
o Wear elbow guards if playing a game such as cricket where you can get hit on the elbow.
o Do not spend long periods of time leaning on the elbows.
o Draining the Bursa:
o Cortisone Injection
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