Student's Elbow (Olecranon Bursitis)

The olecranon is the pointy bit of bone behind your elbow. A bursa is a soft bag of fluid lying over a joint in the body. 'itis' means inflammation. So olecranon bursitis is a condition where there is inflammation and soft swelling at the back of your elbow.

The olecranon is the bony part of the back of the elbow - the bit that you lean on. It is protected by a soft pad of fluid called a bursa. When this pad gets inflamed, it becomes swollen. So, when you have olecranon bursitis, you have a soft lump over the back of your elbow. It is sometimes said to resemble the shape of a goose egg, although it may come in different shapes and sizes.

It can be painful, or it can be just a lump without being painful. If the bursa is infected, the skin over the back of the elbow may feel red and hot, and very tender to touch.

Olecranon Bursitis Elbow Wiki

By User:NJC123, via Wikimedia Commons

Will it come back after treatment?

Not usually. If you tend to lean on your elbows then avoiding this may make it less likely to come back again. Try to avoid this position, or use a cushion or pad so your elbows don't rest on a hard surface.

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Dr Mary Harding
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
4604 (v41)
Last Checked:
28 September 2016
Next Review:
28 September 2019

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.