all things health

Knee Bursitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments And Prevention

Bursa is a small, sac-like fluid-filled cavity that reduces friction and pressure between the joints. Knee bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation of a bursa in the knee joint.

Bursae are usually situated around the large joints, such as the shoulder, knee, hip, and elbow. Swelling of these sac-like structures is known as bursitis. Bursitis can occur in any part of the body where bursae are located.  Depending on the affected location the type of bursitis is specified.

Knee Bursitis

What is Knee Bursitis?

Knee bursitis is a painful condition associated with inflammation or irritation of the knee joint. This usually occurs when there is excessive friction on the bursa or when it gets dried and does not work properly.

The knee bursae that are injured mostly include:

Prepatellar Bursa:

Prepatellar bursa is situated on the anterior region of the kneecap (patella). Inflammation of this region occurs when there is pressure due to prolonged kneeling, and a direct blow of this region causes prepatellar bursitis.

Prepatellar bursitis is the most common form of bursitis knee, and if the bursa is infected along with the inflammation, it is known as prepatellar septic bursitis.

Infrapatellar Bursa:

Infrapatellar bursa is situated underneath the kneecap, inflammation of this bursa occur due to erect kneeling and is known as Clergyman’s knee.

Suprapatellar Bursa:

Suprapatellar bursa is present above the kneecap and between the quadriceps tendon and the femur (thighbone). Inflammation or irritation of this bursa occurs due to repeated stress, injury and constant pressure on suprapatellar bursa due to kneeling.

Pes anserine Bursa:

Pes anserine bursa is located on the inner side of the knee. Inflammation or irritation of this bursa leads to pes anserine bursitis. This kind of bursitis usually occurs in runners and swimmers.

Semimembranosus Bursa:

Semimembranosus bursa is situated at the back of the knee. Excess fluid from the knee leaks back into the bursa due to an injury or arthritis and causes swelling.

What Causes Knee bursitis?

Knee bursitis is mainly caused due to:

  • Excessive pressure on the bursa due to prolonged kneeling
  • Repetitive friction due to jumping, kicking, muscle tightness or due to a sudden injury
  • Infection of the bursa
  • Medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout

Symptoms of Knee bursitis:

The signs and symptoms of knee bursitis differ based on the affected location of the bursa.  The most common symptoms of knee bursitis include:

  • Warmth, tenderness, and redness of the knee
  • Inflammation of the knee joint
  • Sharp and burning knee pain
  • Instability
  • Stiffness or difficulty in walking or performing any physical activity
  • Grinding and crunching sounds from the knees
  • Increased pain while kneeling

Risk Factor for Knee Bursitis:

Factors that increase the risk of developing knee bursitis include:

  • Obesity increases pressure on the weight-bearing knee joint and causes inflammation of the joint and leads to bursitis
  • Injuries Around the Knees especially to the bursae can cause pain and inflammation and may lead to knee bursitis
  • Lack of Physical Activity makes the joints weak and increases the risk of bursitis of the knee
  • Being an Athlete increases the risk of inflammation of inner region of the knee
  • Standing for a Long Duration with the same posture strains the knees and legs. Thus, it causes inflammation and increases the risk of knee bursitis
  • Other Medical Conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or gout in the knee also increases the risk of knee bursitis

Diagnosis of Bursitis Knee:

The doctor initiates the diagnosis of knee bursitis by reviewing the medical history and signs and symptoms of the individual. Mostly bursitis in knee is diagnosed based on the location of a bursa where the inflammation, warmth, redness, knee pain, tenderness, and stiffness are displayed.

The doctor performs a physical examination to:

  • Evaluate the skin near the tender region for redness or other signs of infection
  • Determine the knee movement and its flexibility
  • Detect the source of pain

The doctor recommends some other diagnostic tests to assess the cause of pain. These tests may include the following:


X-ray is a non-invasive diagnostic test performed to reveal the problems with bone or joints by capturing the images of the affected area.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):

An MRI is a medical procedure that uses magnetic and radio frequency to capture the detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bones and other internal body structures. In knee bursitis, it helps in visualizing the affected bursae.


Ultrasound is performed to view the internal organs of the body by using high-frequency sound waves. Ultrasound captures the images of the affected bursa to determine the swelling in knee bursitis.

Knee Aspiration:

Knee aspiration is a medical procedure used for both diagnosing and treating the condition. In this procedure, the doctor uses a sterile needle and syringe for draining the accumulated fluid from the knee joint. This procedure is performed under the influence of anesthesia.

The drained fluid is sent for synovial fluid analysis, which helps in assessing the conditions that cause knee swelling. In some cases, drainage of sufficient fluid helps in reducing the pain and swelling.

Treatment for Knee bursitis:

Treatment for knee bursitis depends on the location of the affected bursa. Usually, the treatment for bursitis knee is aimed at relieving the symptoms.

Treatment for Aseptic bursitis knee involves the use of:

  • Cold therapy to reduce the pain and swelling
  • Anti-inflammatory medications for reducing the inflammation
  • Analgesics (painkillers) for reducing the pain
  • Knee aspiration for draining the excess fluid
  • Adequate rest

If the bursitis is not responding to the basic treatment then the doctor injects corticosteroid inside the affected bursa to reduce the swelling. The individual may experience pain and swelling at the site of injection for a couple of days.

Treatment for septic bursitis involves the use of antibiotic therapy, repeated aspiration and surgical removal of the infected bursa (bursectomy).

Physical therapy is recommended to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Strengthen the muscles
  • Improve the flexibility
  • Reduce the risk of further episodes of knee bursitis

Knee bracing provides support to the knee and reduces the pain by providing warmth and compression.

Prevention of Knee Bursitis:

Bursitis knee can be prevented by following certain measures, such as:

  • Stretching and resting the knees
  • Avoiding excessive and repetitious bending of the knees
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Wearing kneepads

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!