Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones, tendons, and muscles, reducing friction during joint movement. When these bursae become inflamed, you can develop bursitis, causing pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the affected joint. Unfortunately, knees are a common site of bursitis.
Read more about the causes and treatment options for knee pain and bursitis from one of Arizona’s top orthopedic specialists, Dr. Sumit Dewanjee, and our team at FXRX Inc. in Phoenix and Tempe.
What causes knee bursitis?
Knee bursitis can occur due to a variety of factors, including:
Activities involving frequent kneeling or repetitive knee bending, such as gardening, cleaning, or sports activities like wrestling or martial arts, can lead to bursitis.
A sudden impact or blow to the knee during a fall or other trauma can cause inflammation of the bursae.
Bursae can become infected, resulting in a condition known as septic bursitis. This can occur due to an open wound or the spread of bacteria from other parts of the body. Septic bursitis can become life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention and antibiotic treatment.
Underlying medical conditions
Certain underlying medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or osteoarthritis, can increase your risk of developing knee bursitis.
Knee bursitis symptoms
Trauma can cause bursitis to develop quickly, but it most commonly occurs gradually and worsens over time. Your symptoms may include:
- Pain and tenderness around the affected knee joint
- Limited range of motion of the knee joint
- Swelling and redness around the knee, which may be warm to touch
- Discomfort with kneeling, bending, or any activity that puts pressure on the knee joint
Note that your knee has several bursae that are vulnerable to bursitis. But bursitis most often occurs in the bursae over the kneecap or inner knee.
Knee bursitis treatment options and what to expect
The treatment for knee bursitis generally involves a combination of self-care measures and medical interventions, depending on the severity of the condition.
Dr. Dewanjee designs treatment strategies based on your symptoms, evaluation results, and what’s causing your bursitis. Your plan may include:
Rest and immobilization
Taking a break from activities that aggravate the condition and immobilizing the knee with a brace can aid in the healing process.
Ice and compression
Applying ice packs and using compression bandages help reduce swelling and pain.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. You may also require antibiotic therapy if Dr. Dewanjee suspects a bacterial infection.
Dr. Dewanjee may recommend formal therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, improve flexibility, and promote healing.
Aspiration and injection
In more severe cases, Dr. Dewanjee may suggest draining excess fluid from the bursa through a needle (aspiration) and a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation.
In the rare instances when conservative treatments fail, you may need surgery to remove the inflamed bursa.
Bursitis can take several weeks to heal, but treatments speed the process, significantly reduce your pain, and decrease the possibility of infection.
Can I prevent bursitis?
Dr. Dewanjee recommends the following to prevent knee bursitis or reduce the risk of recurrence:
- Using knee pads or cushions during activities requiring kneeling or repetitive bending
- Taking regular breaks during activities that strain your knees
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on your knee joints
- Increasing the intensity and duration of physical activities gradually to avoid overuse injuries
Don’t ignore knee pain. Early intervention and proper care can restore knee function and alleviate discomfort. Schedule a visit with Dr. Dewanjee at FXRX today. Contact our Tempe or Phoenix, Arizona, office today to request an appointment.