Thursday, February 28, 2013

- Olecranon Bursitis

Last Friday my right elbow was sore.  The skin felt like it was so dry that it had cracked.  This was of such importance to me that I even texted my friend Emily about it, because y'all, I'm sure she's totally interested in every little detail of my life.  Even though this happens to me a lot and is really nothing out of the ordinary.  My skin issues generally start at my elbows, because let's face it, they're probably one of the most neglected parts of anyone's body.  I put some Vaseline over the spot that was bothering me and a bandaid.  Because that's what I do.  The next day it wasn't better so I broke out the big guns - aka my $450 prescription ointment.  Sunday my elbow was perfect.  No red spot, no pain, it was healed!

Then Monday I woke up.  And my first thought was: "HOLY SHIT WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY ELBOW?"  Because the pain was REAL.  And it wasn't on the surface, it was in my elbow.  Looking in the mirror I didn't notice any swelling, but it felt swollen, and it was red.  I do not consider myself a wuss when it comes to pain (except headaches which reduce me to a complete baby) so the fact that accidentally brushing up against something, or putting on lotion after the shower hurt to the point where it made me sick to my stomach...made me realize I needed to bring in the big guns - aka an actual doctor.

But of course I googled/webMDed it first.  And I found out that yes, your elbow could totally get infected.  Let's look at a picture:
from: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00028

It turns out that if you were to perhaps have really dry skin that cracked...and bacteria got in there...and then let's say that you put an extremely potent ointment on it that healed the skin, and effectively sealed the bacteria in...well your bursa is right there.  A lovely fluid filled sac that bacteria would love nothing more than to set up shop in.  AND THEN IT GETS INFECTED.  By the time I made it to the doctor the swelling was totally obviously indicative of bursitis. 
photo photo-1
Left = healthy elbow, right = INFECTED elbow
It's really hard to take a picture of this.  

A doctor confirmed my self-diagnosis.  And gave me an antibiotic.  And put me in a sling.  Because your arm is INFECTED so you shouldn't be moving it all over the place.  So not only do you have to deal with the fact that you have come by a freak infection in the weirdest of places, but then you have to wear a sling which shouts to people "HI.  THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY ARM.  PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT IT SO I CAN TELL YOU A SUPER FUN STORY."

The antibiotics they gave me are no joke, but before they kicked in things got pretty crazy Monday night as far as the pain went.  I mean that was the most shocking thing about all this...how much your elbow can hurt.  Because it can hurt A LOT.  And you have no idea how much not having use of your elbow can effect your mobility.  Luckily overnight the antibiotics were hard at work and Tuesday the swelling was down, but the red infected area had spread to have a much larger diameter.
photo-2
So HOT.  I mean literally, it was hot to the touch.


I met with an orthopedic specialist yesterday to make sure that everything was healing okay and she said that it was actually healing better than she would expect considering it had only been 2 days.  She mercifully said I didn't have to wear the sling anymore and could switch to what looks like an elbow pad worn by volleyball players.  So.  Much.  Cooler.  

Anyways...that's my ridiculous cautionary tale of how you shouldn't take your elbows for granted anymore - you should take care of them.

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