Bursitis is inflammation of one or more of the small fluid-filled sacs called bursae in a joint. The inflammation can cause pain and other symptoms.
The purpose of bursae is to provide cushioning around the bones, tendons, muscles, and skin near the joints. When they become inflamed, it can cause pain and limit mobility in the joint. Bursitis is usually caused by an injury, overstressing, or repetitive use of the joint, or a joint infection.
The body has approximately 150 bursae, and any can become affected by bursitis – but it occurs most frequently in the elbows, shoulders, ankles, knees, and hips. Knee bursitis often affects the kneecap or the inner side of the knee joint.
Knee bursitis most commonly occurs from excessive kneeling on hard surfaces. Symptoms usually start gradually and can get worse over time. A sharp blow to the knee can cause bursitis symptoms to come on suddenly, but this is less common.
How Is Knee Bursitis Treated?
Usually, bursitis improves over time; in most cases, it does not require surgery. Treatment is usually aimed at relieving symptoms while the body heals the inflamed bursa.
The best way to relieve the discomfort and pain of bursitis is to temporarily discontinue any activity that is likely to aggravate the knee further. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) can often help the symptoms.
Over-the-counter pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication can often help to relieve symptoms of knee bursitis. If this doesn’t help, your orthopedist can prescribe medications to reduce inflammation, lessen pain, and treat any infection.
If the bursitis persists and doesn’t respond to medication, your doctor can administer corticosteroid injections in the affected bursa to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Physical therapy exercises can help reduce pain symptoms of bursitis of the knee. This can also help to improve flexibility, strengthen the muscles around the affected knee, and help to prevent the condition from reoccurring in the future.
While the bursa heals, a protective knee brace or the use of an assistive device, such as a cane or crutches, may also be recommended to reduce pressure on the area. Compression sleeves can also help to reduce swelling and provide support.
If you suffer from recurring, severe, or chronic knee bursitis, surgery may be recommended to remove the affected bursa. Surgery for bursitis is relatively rare, but it can help to alleviate the pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Knee Bursitis?
Signs of knee bursitis can vary depending on which bursae are inflamed and the cause of the bursitis. The main symptoms include:
- Skin at the affected area may feel warm to the touch
- Fever (if the bursa becomes infected)
Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose knee bursitis by performing a physical examination and a review of your medical history. Imaging tests may also be required, such as X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.
How Can I Prevent Bursitis?
Although knee bursitis cannot always be prevented, there are measures you can take to reduce the chances of getting it or to stop it from reoccurring. These measures include:
- Taking regular breaks – If you’re putting pressure on your knees for long periods, take regular breaks to rest your knees, stretch your legs, and take the pressure off your knees.
- Keeping to a healthy weight – Carrying excess weight can put added pressure on your knee joints.
- Wearing kneepads – If you are on your knees for long periods, or if you participate in high-impact activities or sports, try using kneepads to cushion your knees and alleviate the pressure.
- Avoiding squatting for long periods of time – Excessive or repeated bending of the knees puts more pressure on them and increases the force on the joint.
Treatment for Bursitis in North Dakota
At The Bone & Joint Center, our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons regularly treat a wide range of bone, muscle, and joint problems, including knee bursitis. We offer effective and state-of-the-art treatments to get you back to doing the activities you enjoy as soon as possible.
If you are suffering from bursitis pain, make an appointment with one of our experienced physicians by calling us at (800) 424-2663 or request an appointment online now. We look forward to serving you!