Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
Students elbow is a painful swelling occurring around the bony projection (olecranon process) behind the elbow joint, commonly occurs in students. This is caused due to constant pressure on that bony part of elbow. The students are used to rest their elbow constantly on their writing tables. This exerts a constant pressure on the elbow leading to swelling and inflammation.
Prevention tips and home remedies for Student’s elbow:
Rest – makes pain related to bursitis disappear completely within a few days. Rest does not mean ‘stopping all activities’. Take it easy; try to avoid movements or activities that bring on pain or discomfort. For long term benefit, make sure you properly rest between workouts and avoid overtraining or straining. Consider asking your doctor about an assistive device temporarily to help keep you moving, such as a walking cane, crutch, splint or brace to help relieve pressure wherever it hurts.
Make essential changes – adjust your activity or habit that caused pain or discomfort so as to lessen the stress it brings on to your joints. If leaning on your elbows while reading has caused your elbows to swell and ache, use a book holder to prop up your reading material and take the weight off your arms.
Deflate the inflammation – Take aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce swelling of the bursa. This will also reduce pain. Consult your doctor before doing this especially if you or on other medications like those for blood pressure, kidney problem or bleeding disorders. Acetaminophen might not work, so better to give it a skip.
Ice – brings down swelling by slowing blood flow to the area. Apply ice pack to the joint for about 20 minutes, 3-4 times in a day. Protect your skin by putting a towel or cloth between the ice pack and bare skin.
Elevate – your hand above your heart will help reduce your swelling
Warmth – after the initial swelling has been brought down (about 3-4 days usually), heat from a heating pad or heat pack will not only feel good but will get rid of excess fluid by increasing circulation
Stepladder – if you can’t reach something, don’t try to push or pull, instead use a stepladder or take someone else’s help to get you that thing which is out of reach
Get moving – once the pain eases out, begin moving the affected joint gently through its full range of motion. Your doctor or physical therapist might advise you a set of exercises which might solve the same purpose.
Orange juice – Due to its Vitamin C and antioxidant properties orange juice makes an ideal diet, especially when you have injuries. It prevents and repairs injuries. Not getting enough Vitamin C has been found to hinder proper formation and maintenance of bursa. Drink ¾ – 1 cup of orange juice a day.
Pineapple – contain bromelain, an enzyme that reduces inflammation in sports injuries including bursitis, also reduces swelling
Turmeric – contains curcumin which is very effective anti-inflammatory. In animal studies it was equally effective as cortisone.
Anti-inflammatory diets – Fish and walnuts which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect and increases joint lubrication. Avoid refined sugars and hydrogenated oils.
Read related: Student’s Elbow: Olecranon Bursitis Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Supplements – shots of Vitamin B12 to the affected joint or consuming 1000-2000 mg of Vitamin B per day can relieve bursitis. Similarly Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production which is necessary component of connective tissue. Glucosamine and chondroitin are effective in reducing joint inflammation and building strong connective tissue.
Castor Oil – Topical application of castor oil relieves bursitis. Put 5-10ml of oil on a washcloth. Place the washcloth on the affected area and wrap it with plastic wrap. Apply external heat to wrap with warm towels. Do this for 30-45 minutes 2-3 times in a day.
Boswellia – contains boswellic acids which reduce pain and inflammation. 450-1200 mg of boswellia extract divided into 2-3 doses per day will provide good relief.
White Willow – its bark is a good anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It contains salicin, the precursor to the salicylic acid (ingredient of aspirin).
Peppermint oil and frankincense oil for external application, boosts circulation, reduce inflammation and control pain. They can be used for massage and also added to a bath.
Practice good postures – Poor postures when exercising, sleeping, sitting at work or driving can cause extra wear and tear of the bursae and joints and cause painful strains. Practicing good postures help take extra pressures off the joints.
Anti-inflammatory diet – includes consuming all sorts of fresh veggies and fruit, probiotic foods (yoghurt, kombucha, kefir and cultured veggies), wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut and olive oil.
Avoid – Avoid factors contributory to inflammation such as stress, being overweight or obese, sitting for long periods, cigarette smoking, chemical or toxin exposure, and high amounts of exposure to vibration from vehicles.