Knee bursitis debunked

There are three most common types of knee bursitis:

1. Pre-patellar

This bursa is located in front of the knee cap (patella) and reduces friction between the knee cap and the overlying skin as we bend and straighten our knee.

2. Infra-patellar

This bursa is located below the patellar tendon.

3. Anserine

This (fan shaped) bursa is located among three major tendons just below the inner knee, along the inside of the upper part of the lower leg bone (tibia).

Causes of knee bursitis

  • Chronic trauma

This condition has also been known as a housemaid's knee or clergyman's knee. The names comes from the association of knee bursitis with people whose jobs require kneeling for extended periods of time, usually on hard surfaces.

Such repetitive and excessive pressure on the knees can repeatedly injure the bursa, which can lead to thickening of the bursa over time and cause chronic bursitis.

Other occupations typical for this aliment are gardening, roofing, plumbing or carpet laying.

  • Acute blow

Damage to the bursae may occur as a result of a blow to the knee area or due to a fall on the knee cap.

  • Infection

Occasionally, the bursitis may be caused by an infection associated with a cut in the front of the knee, recent knee surgery or medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Symptoms of knee bursitis

  • Swelling

Swelling can occur on the top of the kneecap or in the inner knee. It is usually pretty obvious as the bursa lies directly beneath your skin.

People often call any swelling of the knee joint 'water in the knee', but with bursitis the fluid - and so swelling - accumulates within the bursa rather than the knee joint itself.

  • Limited motion

Limited motion of the knee is a common symptom of bursitis,

  • Pain and tenderness

Bursitis makes not only the movement - bending and extending - of the knee painful, but the area is usually sore even at rest.

It is normal to feel pain in front of the kneecap and/or just below it. The aches can go as far as to the thigh or calf.

You can even develop a limp when walking.

The pain is particularly disturbing at night (sleeping with a pillow between your thighs or under your knees will help!).

  • Infection

Prepatellar bursitis, being so close to the skin, can become septic relatively easily (as is the case with olecrenon elbow bursitis).

If the bursa does become infected, the front of the knee becomes red and warm to touch. You may even suffer from a fever and chills.

An abscess - bursa filled up with fluid / blood / pus - sometimes forms on the front of the knee.

  • Lumps

Small 'floating' lumps may be felt underneath the skin over the kneecap. They are pieces of thickened bursa tissue that have formed as your body's response to a chronic inflammation.

  • Reduced range of movement

Your knee may feel quite stiff and unable to move as well as it would be usual.

Jump back from Knee Bursitis to Homepage