Knee Bursitis

Knee Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid filled sac that is situated between the bones and tendons within the knee joint. When the bursa becomes inflamed, it causes pain in the knee and can lead to limited mobility of the joint. There are eleven bursae located in each knee, but the condition is most likely to occur over the knee cap or on the inner side of the knee, below the knee joint.

What causes Knee Bursitis? Knee bursitis is most often caused by repetitive overuse of the knee, such as kneeling, which places a great deal of pressure on the knee and can irritate the bursa. It can also be caused by a traumatic injury to the knee, such as a fall or other direct blow. Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or gout can make it more likely that the condition will develop, as will infections of the bursa.

What are the symptoms of Knee Bursitis? The primary symptom of knee bursitis includes pain when moving the knee, primarily over the front of the knee cap or on the inner side of the knee below the joint. In addition to pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness may be apparent and the area may feel warm to the touch. In more severe cases, the degree of pain and inflammation may limit mobility in the knee joint.

How is Knee Bursitis diagnosed? A medical professional will take a complete medical history and will perform a physical exam. Questions will also be asked related to the type and severity of symptoms, when they began, and what makes them better or worse. A medical exam will include feeling the area around the knee for tenderness and swelling and moving the knee in certain ways to determine when pain is felt. X-rays may be done to determine whether a bone fracture or arthritis is evident. An MRI or ultrasound may also be performed to view the soft tissue in the knee more closely in order to determine if there are other causes of the symptoms or to determine the extent of inflammation of the bursae. In some cases, aspiration will be done to remove fluid from the bursa to test it for infection or other medical conditions.

When should I seek care for Knee Bursitis? If you experience pain, tenderness, or swelling in your knee that does not improve following a period of rest and the avoidance of activities you should seek medical advice. If your symptoms are caused by a traumatic injury, such as a fall or hard blow, or pain is accompanied by immobility or redness, warmth, or fever you should seek immediate medical attention.

What will the treatment for Knee Bursitis consist of? Treatment for knee bursitis is focused on reducing the inflammation of the bursa, thereby reducing symptoms. Conservative treatments include resting the area, avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, icing the area, especially following any type of activity that irritates the bursa, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. In more severe cases of knee bursitis, corticosteroid injections can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms and the bursa can also be aspirated with a needle to remove extra fluid that builds up in the area. Physical therapy may also be recommended, and will include stretching, flexibility and strengthening exercises of the muscles and tendons surrounding the area. Ultrasound and massage may also be used to help aid healing. If bursitis is caused by infection, the infection must be treated with antibiotics (often intravenously) and fluid is typically aspirated from the bursa. Surgery is rarely required to treat this condition, but may be an option for those with severe and chronic knee bursitis.

Which muscle groups/joints are commonly affected by Knee Bursitis? Knee bursitis affects one or more of the eleven bursae located within the knee joint.

What type of results should I expect from the treatment of Knee Bursitis? If conservative treatments are followed and the area is given sufficient rest from activities that cause inflammation, most cases of knee bursitis will clear up within a few weeks to a few months. If activities are not limited during this time or activities are resumed too quickly or aggressively, symptoms can return. Bursitis is often a chronic condition that recurs periodically, requiring additional treatment. When surgery is performed to remove the bursa, it is almost always successful and activities can be resumed fairly quickly.