Have you ever heard of the term “student’s elbow”? You do not necessarily have to be a student to succumb to this affliction though. As “Student’s elbow”, also known as “Olecranon Bursitis”, is a disorder in which a little bag of tissue at the elbow’s tip becomes inflamed and puffy. The olecranon is the sharp portion of the bone at the end of your elbow, and the bursa is the little bag that sits between the bone and the skin as a cushion. Hence, the word “bursitis” simply means “inflammation of that bursa.”
How can it occur?
Olecranon Bursitis can occur with or without infection. Moreover, pen names have been given to it because of the frequent small trauma from external pressure that commonly predisposes it. Such as when a person continually rests on his or her elbow – as a student or a draughtsman may when functioning at a desk. Or when frequently thuds the elbow’s tip – as a miner or plumber, who essentially has to execute physical tasks in constricted spaces.
The old man’s case:
A 61-year-old man with no notable past medical history reported left posterior elbow tenderness and swelling. He was diagnosed with Student’s Elbow. The condition had been persistent for more than a year. He refuted any experience of elbow trauma. As he stated the development and progression of his symptoms as gradual. Reclining on the afflicted elbow aggravated his agony. Despite this, he was capable of playing golf and went about his everyday routine with no difficulty. He rejected feeling numb, tingly, or weak in the affected arm.
His general practitioners and orthopaedic physicians had previously conducted four aspirations and one steroid injection into the left olecranon bursa, with pressure bandage used but without immobility. This offered brief alleviation of discomfort, but fluid re-accumulated in the olecranon bursa 2–3 weeks later. Fluid cultures were negative.
The patient was irritated, but he continually voiced a reluctance to undergo surgical treatment. On examining the left elbow, it revealed a 5 cm non-tender, fluctuant lump over the olecranon process with little or no surrounding erythema or warmth.
The treatment that worked:
The doctor extracted 10 ml of serous fluid from the bursa in sterile conditions and with ultrasound assistance. After that, fixed the bursa with fibrin glue to occupy the bursal sac. Then promptly wrapped the elbow in a compression bandage just after injection. Directions given were to limit movement for 72 hours. After 72 hours, he progressively restarted regular activities with no restrictions.
The man regularly reports healthy elbow use with no reappearance of edema or discomfort. Examinations revealed a non-erythematous left elbow with a complete range of movement and no fluctuation. The outcomes have only made the patient happier over time.