What Is Knee Bursitis?

Prepatellar bursitis, also known as knee bursitis, is a condition where the bursa of the knee is inflamed. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac situated in the front of the knee. When the bursa is infected or damaged, more fluid is produced, resulting in inflammation. When the affected area is swollen, more pressure is put on the knee resulting in symptoms.

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Acute or chronic

Knee bursitis is classified into 2 types, acute and chronic. Acute knee bursitis is usually caused by trauma or infection and results in damaging the bursa. Usually, acute knee bursitis resolves in a few weeks and does not have side effects after conservative treatment. Chronic bursitis occurs due to repeated overuse or applying pressure to the knee. Usually requiring more invasive treatment, recovery time for the chronic form can vary from patient to patient.

Pain in the knee

Depending on the condition of the knee, bursitis can cause various symptoms, including pain. A person may have knee swelling and limited range of motion (ROM) of the knee. In cases of an infection, the knee may be warm and red, and high fever and chills can also occur.

Symptom management

The initial management for bursitis is a conservative treatment called the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the knee. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help to relieve inflammation and help with the pain. If symptoms are not resolved with initial treatments, a doctor may recommend alternatives such as steroid injections, physical therapy (PT), and aspiration. With aspiration, the excess fluid is drained out of the knee. If there is a sign of infection, the healthcare specialist will likely prescribe antibiotics.

My bursitis is recurring

When bursitis keeps returning or has become chronic, conservative treatments are likely not working. When non-surgical treatment options do not work, the doctor typically recommends surgery to fix the problem. The healthcare provider will consider the patient’s overall health, the severity of the bursitis, and current symptoms before proceeding with surgery.

Avoid bursitis

Preventive measures can help people experiencing chronic knee pain. Some tips include resting the knees often during any type of activity and using kneepads or support whenever possible. Try to maintain a healthy weight, as too much weight can harm the knees. If a patient is at risk of bursitis, try to avoid positions such as kneeling and squatting. Chronic knee pain is never fun, but with the proper treatment, a patient can be back in action in no time.

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