What is knee bursitis? Knee bursitis is inflammation of the bursa in your knee. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and a tendon. A tendon is a cord of strong tissue that connects muscles to bones.
What causes knee bursitis?
- An injury, such as a fall
- Bacterial infection
- Overuse of your knees, such as when you run or jump
- Constant pressure on your knees, such as when you kneel to garden, clean the floor, or lay carpet
- Medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
What are the signs and symptoms of knee bursitis?
- Pain or tenderness in your knee
- Decreased movement or stiffness of your knee
- Red, warm, swollen skin over your knee
How is knee bursitis diagnosed? Your caregiver will examine your knee and ask about your injury or activities. You may need any of the following:
Blood tests: Your blood is tested for signs of infection. Caregivers may also check for diseases that may be causing your bursitis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
X-rays: These pictures will show bone position problems, arthritis, or a fracture.
MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your knee. An MRI may show tissue damage or arthritis. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.
Fluid culture: Caregivers use a needle to drain fluid from your bursa. The fluid will be sent to a lab and tested for signs of infection. Removal of bursa fluid may also help relieve your symptoms.
How is knee bursitis treated?
NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your caregiver which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
Antibiotics: These help fight an infection caused by bacteria. You may need antibiotics if your bursitis is caused by infection.
Steroid injection: This shot will help decrease pain and swelling.
Bursectomy: This is surgery to remove your bursa. Surgery is only done when other treatments do not work.
What are the risks of knee bursitis? The infection may spread to nearby joints. You may develop long-term bursitis. This may include pain and severe limitation of movement.
How can I manage my symptoms?
Rest: Rest your knee as much as possible to decrease pain and swelling. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times each day, as directed.
Heat: Heat helps decrease pain and stiffness. Apply heat on the area for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times each day, as directed.
Compression: Caregivers may wrap your knee with tape or an elastic bandage to decrease swelling. Loosen the elastic bandage if you start to lose feeling in your toes.
Elevation: Raise your knee above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your knee on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
How can I prevent knee bursitis?
Stretch, warm up, and cool down: Always stretch and do warmup and cool-down exercises before and after you exercise. This will help loosen your muscles and decrease stress on your knees. Rest between workouts.
Protect your knees: Use kneepads when you kneel on a hard surface and when you play sports. Stand and walk around every 20 minutes if you have to kneel for a long period of time.
When should I contact my caregiver? Contact your caregiver if:
- Your pain and swelling increase.
- Your symptoms do not improve with treatment.
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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