Of all bursae in the body, an inflammation of the olecranon bursa is one of the most frequent one. Bursitis at this location can be acute or chronic and septic or aseptic
(Reilly and Kamineni, 2016). It is also called “student’s elbow” or “plumber’s elbow” (Blackwell et al., 2014).
Olecranon bursitis refers to inflammation and swelling of the bursa located between the point of the elbow (olecranon) and overlying skin. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac which allows adjacent tissues to slide over one another without friction. Trauma or a blow can damage blood vessels within the olecranon bursa, causing bleeding. The blood in the bursa causes an inflammatory response resulting in swelling of the bursa and subsequent bursitis. This increases wear and tear on the bursa causing microtrauma which, over time, can result in bursal thickening, inflammation and bursitis
In most cases it is caused by a trauma or post-traumatic with in inflammation on top; in case of trauma, an underlying fracture needs to be ruled out (Blackwell et al., 2014). Most of the time middle-aged men are affected by this kind of pathology. Injury may result from a direct blow to the point of the elbow such as falling on a hard surface or repetitive irritation like leaning on the elbow.
Management of this injury involves the PRICE regime, and Physiotherapy to assist in regaining range of motion in the elbow. In severe cases a Sports Medicine doctor may drain the bursa.
Blackwell J.R. et al., 2014, Olecranon bursitis: a systematic overview, Shoulder and Elbow, 6(3), pp: 182-190