Knee Bursitis


What Is It?

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sack which stops two structures rubbing on each other. For example in the front of your knee there is one that stops your patella bone rubbing on the skin above (known as pre-patella bursitis or Housemaid’s knee). At the back of the knee there is another one to stop the tendons rubbing on the cartilage (known as a popliteal cyst or Baker’s cyst). If a bursa is irritated, the bursa gets inflamed and causes pain with movements around the area.

Knee bursitis including housemaids knee                              knee bursitis

What causes bursitis?

As mentioned bursitis is commonly caused by a rubbing-type irritation at the knee. The repetitive one-off action causes swelling in the bursa which fills up the joint space either at the front or back of the knee. Common causes are kneeling while doing a one-off intense period of gardening, cleaning or doing hygiene cares for someone in a kneeling position.

What does it feel like?

A common description of bursitis is a constant ache with increased pain if kneeling, sitting still then getting up to walk, or straightening/bending the knee through a painful range. It is common to get pain during the night and stiffness in the mornings with knee bursitis.

How is it diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can diagnose your knee injury from your symptoms, mechanism of injury and also with some simple tests. If your injury is severe we may need to refer you for an X-ray and/or ultrasound to determine the extent of your injury.

How can Back in Action Physiotherapy help?

At Back in Action we will talk to you and listen to how your pain is affecting your everyday activities. We can help regain movement in your hip, knee and ankle with mobilisations, massage, acupuncture and stretching thus taking the load off the knee allowing it to heal.  A progressive strengthening programme is vital for regaining full function in your knee so we will create a personalised strengthening or stretching programme for you. Painkillers and Anti-inflammatories can help to relieve the pain of bursitis and we recommend you see your local Pharmacist or Doctor regarding the best type for you. We can discuss options with you including conservative rehabilitation and/ or cortisone injection if required.