What To Do If You Think You Have Knee Bursitis

Man suffering from joint pain in knee

Knee injuries are extremely common. They range from soft tissue injuries such as ligament sprains and muscle strains to bone conditions and biomechanical dysfunction. Each of your knees has a bursa sack that is filled with fluid. When these get inflamed or infected, the condition is called knee bursitis.

What is Knee Bursitis?

Knee bursitis can cause pain above, below or on your kneecap depending on which bursa is inflamed. A bursa is a thin sack filled with synovial fluid, a natural lubricating fluid. This slippery sack allows muscles, tendons and skin to slide over bony surfaces without friction. Your bursa essentially prevents different tissues and structures from catching on one another during a smooth movement of the knee joint.

Your knee consists of up to 11 bursae. The ones most prone to bursitis are the:

  • Prepatellar bursa – Lies just above the kneecap between the skin and the kneecap. Prepatellar bursitis is common for carpet layers, gardeners, roofers, plumbers and other professions that require a lot of kneeling.
  • Infrapatellar bursa – Consists of two bursae, one below the patella tendon and one between the patella tendon and tibia (shin) bone.
  • Pes anserinus bursa – Located in the lower inside part of the knee in close to the upper part of the tibia. Bursitis here usually affects overweight people and middle-aged women.
  • Suprapatellar bursa – Extends from beneath the patella under the quadriceps muscle. It can be injured due to acute trauma and repeated microtrauma, for example, falls onto the knee, overuse injuries such as running on soft or uneven surfaces or from jobs that require being on your knees such as carpet laying.

Common Causes of Knee Bursitis

Knee bursitis can occur due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Direct trauma or blow to the knee
  • Repeated, prolonged pressure on the knee
  • Overuse or strenuous activity
  • Arthritis in the knee
  • Bacterial infection of the bursa

Symptoms of Knee Bursitis

Symptoms of knee bursitis include:

  • Swelling over, above or below the kneecap
  • Redness and heat coming from the site of the bursa
  • Pain when moving your knee
  • Limited mobility of the knee

Knee Bursitis Treatment

Depending on the severity of the issue, treatment can range from rest to medication and physiotherapy. If you think you have knee bursitis, try resting for a few days and avoid strenuous exercise. Put an ice pack on your knee 3-4 times per day for 20 minutes at a time. If required, take a mild, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. If inflammation persists after a few days, you should get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional to determine the exact cause of your bursitis.

If it’s not related to trauma, potential factors may include muscle weakness, tightness, pain inhibition, leg length discrepancy, training techniques and more. From there, treatment may include aspiration (draining the fluid from your knee), physical therapy or a corticosteroid injection. You may also be given knee bursitis exercises to do to assist in your recovery.

Quality Physiotherapy in Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations in Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

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