The sharp point of the elbow is known as the olecranon process and it is vulnerable to pressure as it lies just under the skin. The olecranon bursa, a thin flattened ‘balloon’ containing fluid, sits between the bone and the skin to provide a thin cushion. With prolonged pressure on the elbow the bursa can sometimes become inflamed with local swelling and tenderness – ‘student’s elbow’.
Physiotherapy can help by applying electrotherapy, usually ultrasound, over the bursa and soft tissue massage can also help the swelling to disperse. If the swollen bursa doesn’t respond quickly it may need to be drained of its fluid by your GP who may also inject the bursa with steroid or prescribe anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
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