Knee Bursitis: What You Need To Know
What is a bursa? What is bursitis?
A bursa is small fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction between a bone and tendon, muscle, or skin. Bursitis is an inflammation of this fluid-filled sac due to irritation and constant pressure. The most commonly inflamed knee bursas are related to the patellar tendon (it attaches the bottom of the kneecap to the shin bone). These include supra-patellar bursae, pre-patellar bursae, and infra-patellar bursae. Inflammation of these bursas leads to knee pain and discomfort and may also limit knee movements.
What are the causes of Knee Bursitis?
Knee bursitis is caused by injury or damage to the bursas due to repetitive motions, positions that put constant pressure. Certain factors increase the risk of getting bursitis, such as:
- Frequent, extensive kneeling on hard surfaces
- Playing sports such as basketball and other athletic activities
- Occupations such as plumbing, gardening, mining
- Direct blow to the knee joint
- Infections of the knee bursas
- Other disease conditions such as osteoarthritis, obesity
What are the symptoms of Knee Bursitis?
Symptoms of knee bursitis depend upon the inflamed bursae. If you have knee bursitis, you may experience the following general symptoms:
- Tenderness, warmth, and redness over the affected area
- Pain either dull or sharp
- Pain during movement or even at rest
- Symptoms usually develop or worsen over time
- Symptoms develop rapidly in case of a direct blow to the knee
How to make a diagnosis of Knee Bursitis?
The doctor will make the diagnosis based on the following:
- Symptoms of pain and swelling you present with
- Medical history such as your occupation, recent injury or infection, sports, and other related activities
- Physical examination to check for tenderness, swelling, and range of knee movements.
- X-rays to rule out other possible conditions that cause knee pain, such as bone fractures and arthritis
- MRIs, like x-rays, are performed to rule out other possible conditions. These include soft tissue injuries such as ligament or tendon injuries.
- Bursitis are best seen and diagnosed with ultrasonography
What is the prognosis of Knee Bursitis?
The prognosis of knee pain due to different bursitis is usually good. Mild to moderate cases heal with rest on their own. Symptoms become less usually within three to four days. Severe cases require medical assistance for recovery. If untreated, the bursae keep on increasing in size. In extreme cases, it may become necessary to remove the bursae.
What are the treatments of Knee Bursitis?
Depending upon the severity of your condition, your doctor will recommend the following for knee bursitis:
- Rest for some time, and after that, modifying activities that irritate the bursae.
- Apply ice and heat alternatively to the affected area to reduce pain and swelling
- Knee elevation above the heart level to reduce blood flow. He may also recommend compressing the joint with straps or elastic bandages. These are to reduce inflammation of the bursas.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen to reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles of the leg and restore joint movement. Some knee pain exercises shoulde be done after pain is less. A physical therapist may help in this regard.
- Braces to avoid kneeling if you can’t help it
- Steroid injection in case other treatment options fail to resolve your pain and bursae inflammation.
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection- It is the best treatment when bursitis is associated with degenerative tendinopathy
- Surgery to remove bursae if all other options have failed