Knee Bursitis

By Mikel Betancourt, PTA

What is Knee Bursitis?

Knee bursitis is an inflammatory condition or irritation of the bursae in your knee. Bursae are small fluid filled sacs that help reduce friction and provide some cushion to your bones, muscles, tendons, and skin when you bend or straighten your knee. This condition is often painful and can limit your mobility.

What are the Bursae of the Knee?

The knee has several different bursae. The patellar (kneecap) bursa is the most common to become inflamed. Sometimes the swelling gives the appearance of a small balloon in the front of the knee. Typically, bursitis occurs from overuse so constant kneeling and putting pressure on your knee can put someone at risk. The bursae can also get inflamed from a sudden blow to the knee. Some preventative measures to avoid bursitis of the knee would include wearing appropriate protective knee guards, avoiding repetitive squatting activities, and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the pressure on your knee.

Do I Need To See A Doctor?

It is best to see a doctor if you suspect you may have knee bursitis. Since the knee is a complex joint there are any number of injuries and conditions that can occur besides bursitis. Accurate diagnosis of the injury and efficient planning in care can lead to a decrease in pain and a speedy recovery. Should this condition go untreated it can lead to thickening of the bursae which can cause chronic knee pain. Most people tend to avoid painful activities which can lead to muscle atrophy and range of motion deficits affecting their quality of life.


Common types of bursitis, Elbow, shoulder, knee

Can I work out with knee bursitis?

If you are suffering with bursitis of the knee, you should refrain from doing workouts that engage the knee in high stress situations. This will allow the knee to heal without any additional stress placed on your bursae.  As you return to your normal activities, you should always ice the knee after to avoid a re-occurrence.

Treatment of Bursitis

After seeing a doctor, the next thing you should consider is to stop doing the activity that is irritating your knee. After discontinuing the activity, one should follow the rules of PRICE.

PRICE stands for:

  • Protection
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression (Knee Sleeve)
  • Elevation
Bursitis of the Knee by JOI Rehab

Knee Bursitis

Each component of price is pivotal in reducing inflammation. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can provide some pain relief as instructed by your doctor.
Once you see a doctor for bursitis, they may refer you to physical therapy.  With the goal to strengthen and improve the flexibility of your muscles to decrease the chance of this condition from re-occurring.

How long does it take for bursitis of the knee to heal?

Knee bursitis can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks (about 2 months) to go away. This is dependent on what measures are being taken to reduce this condition. Healing differs from person to person so do not try to rush to normal activities and make sure to give yourself time to heal.

Similar Articles: What is Bursitis? and Knee Pain

By: Mikel Betancourt, PTA

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