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Student's elbow

Student's elbow, also known as Olecranon bursitis, is a condition where the superficial bursa on the outside of the elbow becomes inflamed. Bursae exist to allow the glide of soft tissue over bony prominences, and in this case, it is the elbow. Due to the superficial location of this bursa and its limited blood supply, it is susceptible to trauma and infection. This injury is called 'student's elbow' because it can occur when placing direct pressure on to the elbow joint for long periods of time.

It is important to ascertain the reasons behind suffering olecranon bursitis, and infection must be identified and treated. Two-thirds of cases are from trauma and activities that require repeated and long periods of time on their elbows.

For non-infective bursitis, the advice is to manage it conservatively with rest, ice, and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Studies show a corticosteroid injection can reduce the early symptoms, but there is a 10% risk of infection from the injection itself. 25% of those who have the fluid drained will have a recurrence of swelling at eight weeks, and 10% will have persistent symptoms at 6 months.

Infective bursitis will require treatment with antibiotics, alongside drainage which has proved effective.


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