The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a gliding surface and prevents friction during movement. It also protects pressure points between the muscle and the skin, especially around the knee joints, bones, and tendons. Bursitis is a condition diagnosed when one of the bursae located around the Achilles tendon, hip, elbow, or knee joint becomes inflamed. Although there are three critical bursae around the knee joint, inflammation mostly affects the knees' kneecap and inner sides.
Causes and Types of Knee Bursitis
Causes of knee bursitis may range from prolonged kneeling to knee injuries and weight issues. Examples include:
The prepatellar bursitis is the result of direct trauma to the front knee. It is often referred to as the "Housemaid's Knee' or the "Roofer's Knee" because it mostly affects workers in occupations that require prolonged kneeling.
Pes Anserine Bursitis
The pes anserine bursitis is caused by inflammation of the bursa located in the knee's anserine area (inner side). This condition mostly affects obese people and middle-aged women.
The infrapatellar bursitis is also called the '"Jumper's Knee" because it occurs due to straining the large tendon below the knee cap and is mostly associated with jumping injuries.
Symptoms of Knee Bursitis
Depending on the area affected, knee bursitis is typically characterized by varying degrees of pain and can sometimes render you immobile. The following are some common symptoms of an inflamed bursa:
When an inflamed bursa fills up with fluid, it causes swelling around the affected area. Swelling might start as a small lump under the skin and grow to a grapefruit-size if left untreated.
Pain and Tenderness
Similar to other knee conditions, most patients who suffer from knee bursitis experience pain and tenderness. It is sometimes accompanied by warmth and redness around the affected knee. Levels of pain and tenderness will differ from case to case. While some may only feel tender upon touch or pressure on the affected knee, patients with severe bursitis may experience excruciating pain when moving, bending, or straightening the leg. These symptoms might limit the movement and flexibility of the knee joints.
When an inflamed bursa gets infected, it can result in a severe condition called septic bursitis. In addition to the other symptoms, patients suffering from septic bursitis might have chills, fevers, and tiredness. This condition can escalate quickly, and it is essential to seek medical care to avoid the spread of sepsis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Knee Bursitis
Doctors conduct physical examination and imaging tests to diagnose bursitis. Aspiration may also be conducted to obtain samples of bursa fluid where infections or gout are suspected.
Treatment of Knee Bursitis
In less severe cases, treatments target symptom relief and include physiotherapy to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. Physiotherapy is usually conducted by a sports medicine specialist or a physical therapist. Medications such as antibiotics might be prescribed for patients suffering from infected knee bursitis.
In severe cases, more invasive forms of treatment might be used. These include:
- Aspiration to drain excess bursa fluid and reduce inflammation.
- Corticosteroid injection to treat unresponsive inflammation through the use of corticosteroid drugs.
- Surgery to remove the bursa in severe chronic and recurrent cases of bursitis. The procedure is done by an orthopedic surgeon and is only recommended after all other treatment forms have failed.
Contact Gustavel Orthopedics in Boise, Idaho
If you are suffering from knee pain, including bursitis of the knee, the last thing you want to worry about is the quality of specialized care you deserve. At Gustavel Orthopedics we pride ourselves on patient care & independence in health care choice. Dr. Michael Gustavel is a renowned Orthopedic Surgeon in Boise, Idaho who has been practicing since 2002. Contact Gustavel Orthopedics to schedule a consultation.