It’s that time of the year again – back to school. Students all over the world are counting down the days till they have to return school and hit the books.
It’s hard enough to get back into the groove of studies and applying yourself, but did you know that there is actually an elbow injury that is named after students? It’s called students elbow. The medical name for students elbow is actually elbow bursitis.
So how did bursitis of the elbow come to be known as students elbow?
The way this condition develops and occurs is that when students study, they rest their elbows on a desk or some other hard surface for extended periods of time. There is a small fluid filled sac called the bursa that sits right below/behind the tip of your elbow. It is filled with lubricating fluid that helps protect your elbow joint from injury. When you lean on your elbows for extended periods of time, the bursa sac can becomes inflamed and swollen or even worse infected.
You may start to notice some burning elbow pain or that the back of your elbow may start show signs of protrusion or may look a little funny like an egg is growing out from the back of your elbow. You may notice that your condition may get worse, then better and worse again over time. This depends on how often and frequent you are leaning on your elbows. You may start to notice that as the swelling increases, your range of motion will decrease, and you may even find it challenging to bend or straighten your arm fully.
The first thing you can do when you suffer from students elbow is apply some ice. I should warn you that shoulder never apply ice directly to your skin, as this can cause frostbite and tissue damage at the elbow. Always wrap it in a towel or shirt. A bag of frozen veggies, peas, corn or carrots will work just as good. Apply ice to your affected elbow for 10-15 minutes twice a day for 3 days. If after 3 days, there is no change, I recommend you see your doctor or even visit your local pharmacy.
You may discover that your doctor or pharmacist will prescribe a topical antibiotic cream to help accelerate your healing and recovery time. If you have an infected bursa sac, then the doctor may have to drain it. This is obviously a little more invasive but if there is an infection, it has to somehow get it. You maybe required to have it drained over 3 or more visits. It’s rare that you would require more than 3 follow ups but your doctor knows best.
Other common signs and symptoms of students elbow can include your affected elbow being red in colour, feel hot in temperature and be extremely tender to the touch. Again, if you notice that your elbow has not gotten any better after 3 days of icing, please seek professional medical advice as there could be something more serious going on.
But for students whose elbow pain is on the outside of their elbow, you’ve noticed your grip has been getting weaker, shaking hands with someone is a challenge or even gripping a coffee mug causes pain and discomfort on the outside of your elbow, then you maybe suffering from one of the most common kinds of elbow injuries. This condition is known as tennis elbow.
If this sounds more like you or someone you know, simply click the “Learn More” button below to watch a short video on how to cure and treat tennis elbow at home in just 5 simple steps!