As a joint that experiences a lot of use, the knee is vulnerable to many injuries and degenerative diseases. Knee bursitis and knee arthritis are two conditions that can affect this important joint and limit your movement. Both conditions share similar symptoms, but there are some key differences.
Here’s what you should know about each condition.
What Is Knee Bursitis?
Knee bursitis is a condition marked by the swelling of the bursa. It is also called goosefoot bursitis or Pes Anserine bursitis.
A bursa is a tiny, fluid-filled sac located near the knee joint. Bursae (plural for bursa) reduce inflammation and friction by padding pressure points between bones and nearby tendons, muscles, and skin. The kneecap and the inner side of the knee are commonly affected by bursitis.
Individuals participating in high-contact sports, such as volleyball, football, and wrestling, face a higher risk of developing knee bursitis. Similarly, runners can experience inflammation in the inner side of the knee. Lack of stretching before exercise and obesity can also increase the risk of developing knee bursitis.
What Is Knee Arthritis?
Knee arthritis is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage deteriorates. Cartilage is a connective tissue coating the bone ends and cushioning the joint. It also allows the knee to bend and straighten smoothly. The space between the bones narrows once the cartilage wears away. The risk factors of knee arthritis include:
- Severe or repeated injury
- Health conditions (diabetes, vitamin D deficiency, high cholesterol)
- Repeated stress on the knee
Knee bursitis and knee arthritis tend to share similar symptoms. The two conditions cause varying degrees of joint pain and swelling. The affected area may also feel swollen, warm, and tender when you put pressure on it.
Knee bursitis symptoms tend to appear more rapidly if a patient experiences a sharp blow to the knee. Friction and irritation of the bursa are the most common cause of knee bursitis. Knee bursitis can limit your motion, as well.
On the other hand, knee arthritis symptoms tend to develop more gradually. The most common symptoms are joint aches and stiffness. You might also hear snapping, cracking, and clicking sounds when you move the affected joints. You may experience mild relief when you move your joint. Symptoms tend to get worse over months and years.
Diagnosis And Treatment
To determine the cause of your knee pain, your doctor may order imaging tests to determine which structure is affected. They may order an X-ray or an MRI scan to get a better sense of your problem. Depending on the results, they will craft an appropriate treatment plan.
There are several knee pain treatments. Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics if the knee bursitis is accompanied by an infection. They can help alleviate pain and prevent future episodes of knee bursitis. They can also refer you to a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor if you are an athlete.
Remedies such as over-the-counter pain relievers, rest, ice therapy, and compression can ease symptoms of knee bursitis. Your doctor will only recommend surgery for severe cases.
Meanwhile, treatment plans for knee arthritis are developed based on your age, pain severity, type, and stage of the condition. Common treatments include:
- Physical therapy
- Walking aids
- Low-impact exercises
- Surgery (for severe cases)
Knee Experts In North Dakota
Since knee bursitis and knee arthritis share similar symptoms, it can be difficult to identify the cause of the problem on your own. Therefore, it’s best to consult with a doctor if you’re struggling with persistent knee pain. Your healthcare provider can conduct the necessary tests to diagnose your condition and craft a treatment plan.
For comprehensive knee care, visit The Bone & Joint Center. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists can diagnose and treat a broad range of orthopedic problems, including knee bursitis and knee arthritis.
We have several offices around North Dakota to cater to your needs. Call (701) 946-7400 / (866) 900-8650 to schedule an appointment. You can also request an appointment online. Let us help you lead a pain-free life!