Knee bursitis is inflammation of the bursa in your knee. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and a tendon. A tendon is a cord of strong tissue that connects muscles to bones.
What causes knee bursitis?
- An injury, such as a fall
- Bacterial infection
- Overuse of your knees, such as when you run or jump
- Constant pressure on your knees, such as when you kneel to garden, clean the floor, or lay carpet
- Medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
What are knee bursitis symptoms and signs?
Bursitis can lead to varying degrees of swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness in the overlying area of the knee. As compared with knee joint inflammation (arthritis), it is usually only mildly painful.
It is frequently associated with increased pain when kneeling and can cause stiffness and pain with walking.
Also, in contrast to problems within the knee joint, the range of motion of the knee is frequently preserved.
How is knee bursitis diagnosed?
Bursitis of the knee is diagnosed based upon the typical location of a bursa displaying signs of inflammation including knee pain, tenderness, stiffness, and sometimes redness and warmth.
Typically, there is point tenderness at the site of the inflamed bursa.
How is prepatellar bursitis of the knee treated? Are there home remedies for knee bursitis?
The treatment of any bursitis depends on whether or not it involves infection. Aseptic prepatellar bursitis can be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Occasionally, it requires aspiration of the bursa fluid.
This procedure involves removal of the fluid with a needle and syringe under sterile conditions and can be performed in the doctor’s office.
Sometimes the fluid is sent to the laboratory for further analysis. Noninfectious knee bursitis can also be treated with an injection of cortisone medication into the swollen bursa.
Cortisone injections are sometimes done at the same time as the aspiration procedure.
Septic bursitis requires even further evaluation and treatment. The bursal fluid can be examined in the laboratory to identify the microbes causing the infection.
It requires antibiotic therapy, often intravenously. Repeated aspiration of the inflamed fluid may be required. Surgical drainage and removal of the infected bursa sac (bursectomy) may also be necessary.
What about the other knee bursae?
A second bursa of the knee is located just under the kneecap beneath the large tendon that attaches the muscles in front of the thigh and the kneecap to the prominent bone in front of the lower leg.
This bursa is called the infrapatellar bursa, and when inflamed, the condition is called infrapatellar bursitis. It is commonly seen with inflammation of the adjacent tendon as a result of a jumping injury, hence the name “jumper’s knee.”
This condition is generally treated with ice, rest, and oral anti-inflammatory and/or pain medicines.
A third bursa of the knee is called the “anserine bursa.” It is located on the lower inner side of the knee. This bursa most commonly becomes inflamed in middle-aged women.
This condition is referred to as anserine bursitis. Anserine bursitis is particularly common in those who are obese. These patients can notice pain in the inner knee while climbing or descending stairs.
Anserine bursitis is generally treated with ice, rest, and oral anti-inflammatory and/or pain medicines, although cortisone injections are also given.
What is the prognosis (outlook) of knee bursitis?
The outlook for knee bursitis is generally very good. Mild bursitis resolves spontaneously with rest.
More significant bursitis can require medications (either taken by mouth or locally injected) to reduce inflammation. Infectious bursitis requires drainage, possibly surgical resection, and antibiotics.
Can knee bursitis be prevented?
To the extent that the bursitis is caused by injury or athletic activity, it can be prevented by avoiding reinjury to the bursa and adjacent tissues.
How is knee bursitis treated?
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor’s order. Ask your caregiver which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Antibiotics: These help fight an infection caused by bacteria. You may need antibiotics if your bursitis is caused by infection.
- Steroid injection: This shot will help decrease pain and swelling.
- Bursectomy: This is surgery to remove your bursa. Surgery is only done when other treatments do not work.
What are the risks of knee bursitis?
The infection may spread to nearby joints. You may develop long-term bursitis. This may include pain and severe limitation of movement.
How can I manage my symptoms?
Rest: Rest your knee as much as possible to decrease pain and swelling. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times each day, as directed.
Heat: Heat helps decrease pain and stiffness. Apply heat on the area for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times each day, as directed.
Compression: Caregivers may wrap your knee with tape or an elastic bandage to decrease swelling. Loosen the elastic bandage if you start to lose feeling in your toes.
Elevation: Raise your knee above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your knee on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.