Knee Bursitis Causes

At KneeCare Clinics, we have seen far too many people across the St. Louis area be sidelined from the activities they love due to pain caused by bursitis. Bursitis has gained many colloquial names over the years, such as “housemaid’s knee,” “gardener’s knee” “carpenter’s knee,” and more. No matter which way you phrase it though, one thing is for sure: bursitis can cause painful inflammation that keeps you from doing the activities that may have caused the bursitis in the first place. 

To understand the causes of knee bursitis, you must first understand what the bursa is and how it contributes to the overall movement and stability of the leg.

A bursa is a sac of fluid that sits between tissues, bones, and joints in order to reduce the friction between them. As one of the largest joints in the human body, the knee has three bursae that run the risk of being affected by bursitis inflammation. The most commonly-seen knee bursitis can be found in the prepatellar bursa which sits right over the kneecap. Inflammation often occurs when one is in a kneeling position for long periods of time, which is why carpet layers, plumbers, and gardeners are at increased risk of knee bursitis.

While kneeling is certainly one of the most common, there can be a variety of other causes for bursitis. These include:

  • Previous injury – Trauma to the knee can cause the bursa to fill with blood and the lining to become inflamed. While the body may reabsorb the blood, the lining can still remain inflamed and cause the bursitis symptoms. 
  • Repetitive, prolonged actions of the knee – Frequent “mini-traumas,” such as constant pressure on the knee from kneeling on hard surfaces, can cause the same problems as one single serious trauma. Once again, this can cause the bursa to fill with blood over time and become irritated and inflamed.
  • Underlying condition –  The bursa can become inflamed because of another condition that affects the knee altogether such as knee rheumatoid arthritis, knee osteoarthritis, gout, and pseudogout. In instances like these, the treatment may focus on the condition which will reduce bursitis pain in the process.
  • Infection – When the prepatellar bursa is infected, it can cause something called septic bursitis. Septic bursitis infection can reach the bursa through a cut, puncture, or even an insect bite. It is common in the summertime and people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, lupus, alcoholism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes may be more likely to get septic bursitis.

Knee Bursitis Symptoms

Knee bursitis signs and symptoms will vary depending on which bursa is affected and what is causing the inflammation. As most cases of knee bursitis result from irritation of the bursa from repetitive actions of the knee—such as kneeling— symptoms usually begin gradually and can worsen over time and with age. However, a sharp blow to the knee can cause symptoms to appear rapidly.

The most common symptoms of bursitis are pain and swelling in the affected portion of your knee, which might also feel warm, tender, and swollen to the touch. The pain may be sharp and intense at first, but later become a dull deep ache that expands to the entire area.

Overall, the pain associated with bursitis is less than that of knee arthritis pain, but can intensify after putting repeated stress or pressure on the joint, or with first use after a period of rest.

Other symptoms of bursitis may include: 

  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness  to the touch or while at rest
  • Stiffness when moving the affected joint
  • Discomfort while knee is in use 
  • Pain that spreads to nearby areas
  • Swelling, warmth, or redness over the joint and fever
  • Achiness or puffiness

Natural Treatment for Bone on Bone Knee Pain

Home Treatment

Knee bursitis can sometimes be treated at home using methods, such as rest, ice, compress, elevate (RICE). To get the swelling down, apply a bag of ice to the area and elevate the knee above heart level. Avoid kneeling or any activity that may aggravate the condition, but if this is unavoidable, then use a knee pad. Be sure to ice the knee and take anti-inflammatories as often as necessary.

Injections for Knee Pain

If the knee bursitis is persistent and not responding to the basic home remedies, then it may be because of an underlying condition that needs to be treated. At KneeCare Clinics, we offer a variety of injections to treat common conditions without the use of surgery or medicine. These include: Viscosupplementation, FluidFlow, Trigger Point Injections, Platelet Rich Plasma Injections.

Knee Bracing

Wearing a knee brace for bursitis can help apply warmth, compression, and external stability to the area which can, in turn, help relieve pain. Our team can outfit you with a knee brace for your situation that both controls swelling and protects the kneecap from further injury.

Lifestyle Changes

Increased weight puts extra pressure on your knee joints, which accelerates the pain felt with bursitis. Diet/weight counseling from KneeCare Clinics can help you maintain a healthy weight, thereby, mitigating pain and reducing your risk of recurring episodes of knee bursitis.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can normalize your knee joint range of motion and muscle lengths. Exercises during physical therapy sessions may include heel slides, calf stretches, hamstring stretches, quad tightening, wall squats, etc. Your physical therapist may also be able to provide education on activity modification.

Lifestyle changes

Increased weight puts extra pressure on your knee joints, which accelerates the pain felt with bursitis. Diet/weight counseling from KneeCare Clinics can help you maintain a healthy weight, thereby, mitigating pain and reducing your risk of recurring episodes of knee bursitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:

What to Expect During Recovery from Knee Bursitis

Answer:

If at-home treatments are not as effective at treating the pain associated with knee bursitis, turn to KneeCare Clinics for our outstanding nonsurgical treatment that lets you get back to work or get back to enjoying the things you love to do!

Recovery from knee bursitis is dependent upon which bursa is affected and the treatment plan that you choose from KneeCare Clinics. Generally, injections and knee bracing can have an immediate effect on reducing pain while other methods like physical therapy and diet/weight counseling can have a gradual —but certainly lasting— reduction of knee pain. 

Reduce arthritis pain and restore your quality of life! You can find a deeper level of enjoyment in your personal relationships, careers, hobbies and more with the help of KneeCare Clinics! Contact us now or speak to our patient advocate to get started!

Question:

Do you have a payment plan for treatment?

Answer:

We offer CareCredit financing which offers 6, 12, or 18 months at 0% interest. They can finance all the way up to 60-months if you prefer smaller payments (but interest is involved beyond 18 months).

  • What to Expect During Recovery from Knee Bursitis

    If at-home treatments are not as effective at treating the pain associated with knee bursitis, turn to KneeCare Clinics for our outstanding nonsurgical treatment that lets you get back to work or get back to enjoying the things you love to do!

    Recovery from knee bursitis is dependent upon which bursa is affected and the treatment plan that you choose from KneeCare Clinics. Generally, injections and knee bracing can have an immediate effect on reducing pain while other methods like physical therapy and diet/weight counseling can have a gradual —but certainly lasting— reduction of knee pain. 

    Reduce arthritis pain and restore your quality of life! You can find a deeper level of enjoyment in your personal relationships, careers, hobbies and more with the help of KneeCare Clinics! Contact us now or speak to our patient advocate to get started!

  • Do you have a payment plan for treatment?

    We offer CareCredit financing which offers 6, 12, or 18 months at 0% interest. They can finance all the way up to 60-months if you prefer smaller payments (but interest is involved beyond 18 months).