Baker’s Elbow: The Unusual Hazard of Hobbies

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In 2020 we saw a renaissance of sorts while we were stuck at home. Many of us began to experiment with new creative forms of expression – from learning how to garden to baking the perfect sourdough. While these new interests can provide many benefits, they can also give rise to some unusual injuries.

Trying a new hobby or activity can be exciting, but if you’re not used to the movements or exercises, it may leave you with painful injuries. Airrosti providers can help you understand your injury and give you the tools needed to address issues as they appear. Consult with an Airrosti provider today and get back to doing the activities you love most.

What is Baker’s Elbow?

While “baker’s elbow” may sound like a nickname for a delicious pastry (croissants, anyone?), it’s actually one of several nicknames for a common injury known as olecranon bursitis. Olecranon bursitis, also known as elbow bursitis, is a condition caused by irritation or inflammation of the olecranon bursa.

The olecranon bursa, a small, fluid-filled sac located in the tip of the elbow, helps reduce friction in the joint during movement. When the elbow is injured or overused, the bursa can become inflamed, causing elbow pain, redness, and swelling. One distinguishing sign of bursitis is the appearance of a “Popeye elbow,” where the elbow becomes visibly swollen and appears to pop out of the arm.

Common Causes of Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis is a common elbow injury that can happen to anyone. It’s often seen athletes and handy professions like bakers, artists, or tradesmen. This injury also earned the nickname “student’s elbow” due to its prevalence in students and other individuals who work at a desk. Overuse, compression, acute injuries, and even infections or complications from other conditions can cause bursitis.

Overuse. Repetitive swinging and bending motions can cause the bursa to become irritated from long-term use. Athletics and professions that require repetitive elbow movements, like throwing a ball or lifting weights, are more likely to experience bursitis due to overuse.

Compression. Even seated activities can irritate the bursa if the elbow is compressed or put under pressure for too long. Many students and office workers develop elbow bursitis from simply leaning on a desk while typing or writing.

Impact. A traumatic injury from a fall or blow to the elbow is another common cause of elbow bursitis. An acute injury with enough force can set off inflammation. In some cases, an injury to the elbow may also lead to an infection of the olecranon bursa.

Infection or Autoimmune Conditions. Much like the rest of the body, the olecranon bursa can also become infected if exposed to bacteria. Other conditions like autoimmune diseases or arthritis can also leave the elbow vulnerable to injuries like bursitis.

Elbow Injury Prevention Tips

Wear Protective Gear During Activity

Even though protective gear like elbow pads and arm wraps may not be comfortable, and often get a bad rap for not looking cool, they’re still far more effective at minimizing injuries than your bare skin. Make safety your priority and wear protective gear when working or playing to protect yourself from sidelining injuries.

Take Frequent Breaks to Avoid Overuse

Listen to your body. If you start noticing signs of fatigue, soreness, or pain during an activity, stop what you’re doing and take a break. Give yourself a chance to cool down, stretch a little, and recover. Taking regular breaks throughout the day can also help you adjust your posture.

Improve Seated Posture to Reduce Compression

Speaking of posture, how long have you been sitting at your desk? The longer you sit, stand, or remain stationary in one position, the more fatigued your muscles get. Eventually, you’ll start slouching, which can cause you to rely on your arms and elbows to prop yourself up.

To avoid the slouch, be conscious of your posture. Practicing good posture habits can also help improve your breathing and make your body stronger in the long run.

Build Arm Strength for Extra Support

Strengthening the muscles around the elbow can help provide stability and support, making repetitive activities less stressful for the elbow joint. Stronger forearms are also helpful for movements that involve the wrists, like typing or writing. You can add these quick wrist flexion and extension exercises to your daily routine to help build forearm strength.

Strong upper arm muscles can also help stabilize your elbow joint while facilitating most overhead movements like throwing and lifting. Try adding some upper arm exercises to your workout routine, like bicep curls or this easy triceps extension movement, to get started.

Keep Bursitis at Arm’s Length

If pain from elbow bursitis or another injury is holding you back in life, consider scheduling an appointment with your local Airrosti provider.

Our providers will conduct a thorough evaluation to help find the root cause of your pain and develop a personalized treatment plan for your injury. We also share resources and tools you can use to boost your recovery, strengthen your muscles, and help prevent future injuries.

We offer both in-office and telehealth appointments to best suit your needs. Call us today at (800) 404-6050 to learn more.

Read our Medical Disclaimer here.

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