Knee bursitis is inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac (bursa) situated near your knee joint. Bursae reduce friction and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons, muscles and skin near your joints.
Any of the bursa in your knee can become inflamed, but knee bursitis most commonly occurs over the kneecap or on the inner side of your knee below the joint.
Knee bursitis causes pain and can limit your mobility. Treatment for knee bursitis often includes a combination of self-care practices and doctor-administered treatments to alleviate pain and inflammation.
KNEE BURSA ANATOMY
Knee bursitis signs and symptoms vary, depending on which bursa is affected and what’s causing the inflammation.
In general, the affected portion of your knee might feel warm, tender and swollen when you put pressure on it. You might also feel pain when you move or even at rest.
A sharp blow to the knee can cause symptoms to appear rapidly. But most cases of knee bursitis result from friction and irritation of the bursa that occurs in jobs that require a lot of kneeling on hard surfaces — so symptoms usually begin gradually and can worsen over time.
Knee bursitis can be caused by:
Frequent and sustained pressure, such as from kneeling, especially on hard surfaces
Overuse or strenuous activity
A direct blow to your knee
Bacterial infection of the bursa
Complications from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout in your knee
People who work on their knees for long periods — carpet layers, plumbers and gardeners — are at increased risk of knee bursitis.
PARTICIPATION IN CERTAIN SPORTS.
Sports that result in direct blows or frequent falls on the knee — such as wrestling, football and volleyball — can increase your risk of knee bursitis. Runners can develop pain and inflammation in the pes anserine bursa, situated on the inner side of your knee below the joint.
OBESITY AND OSTEOARTHRITIS.
Pes anserine bursitis, affecting the inner side of your knee below the joint, often occurs in obese women with osteoarthritis.
Bursitis often improves over time, so treatment is usually aimed at symptom relief. However, depending on the cause of your knee bursitis and which bursa is infected, your doctor might recommend one or more treatment approaches.
If an infection has caused the knee bursitis, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotic treatment.
Your doctor might refer you to a physical therapist or specialist in sports medicine, who can help you improve flexibility and strengthen muscles. This therapy might alleviate pain and reduce your risk of recurring episodes of knee bursitis. Protective knee braces might help if you can’t avoid kneeling, and compressive knee sleeves can help reduce swelling.
If the bursitis is persistent and not responding to basic treatments, your doctor might inject a corticosteroid drug into an affected bursa to reduce inflammation. The inflammation usually subsides rapidly, but you might have pain and swelling from the injection for a couple of days.
Your doctor might aspirate a bursa to reduce excess fluid and treat inflammation. He or she will insert a needle into the affected bursa and draw fluid into the syringe. Aspiration might cause short-term pain and swelling, and you might need to wear a knee immobilizer for a short period after the injection to reduce the chance of recurrent swelling.
If you have severe chronic or recurrent bursitis and don’t respond to other treatments, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the bursa.
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