Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Knee Tendon Bursitis

Knee tendon bursitis, also known as prepatellar bursitis or patellar tendon bursitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the bursa located between the patella (kneecap) and the overlying skin. Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues, reducing friction and allowing smooth movement of tendons and muscles. When a bursa becomes inflamed, it can lead to pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the affected area. Here’s an overview of knee tendon bursitis, including causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention:

Common Symptoms

  • Pain: Pain over the front of the knee, especially when kneeling or with direct pressure.
  • Swelling: Visible swelling over the kneecap.
  • Warmth and Redness: The skin over the knee may feel warm to the touch and appear red.
  • Limited Mobility: Difficulty fully bending or straightening the knee due to pain and swelling.

Cause & Anatomy

  • Repetitive Pressure: Activities that involve frequent kneeling, such as gardening, cleaning, or certain sports (e.g., volleyball, wrestling).
  • Trauma: Direct blow or impact to the front of the knee.
  • Infection: In rare cases, bacterial infection of the bursa can cause bursitis.

Diagnosis

  • Physical Examination: Assessment of symptoms, tenderness, and range of motion of the knee.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays may be performed to rule out other conditions. In some cases, an ultrasound or MRI may be used to visualize the bursa and surrounding structures, especially if there is suspicion of infection or other underlying issues.

Prevention

  • Padding: Use knee pads or cushioned mats when kneeling to reduce pressure on the kneecap.
  • Proper Technique: Maintain proper posture and technique during activities that involve kneeling or direct pressure on the knee.
  • Gradual Progression: Gradually increase intensity or duration of activities to allow the body to adapt and avoid overuse injuries.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Rest and Activity Modification:

  • Avoid activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as kneeling or activities that put pressure on the kneecap.
  • Modify activities to reduce friction and pressure on the affected area.

Ice Therapy:

  • Apply ice packs to the affected knee for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce pain and inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Medications:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Compression and Elevation:

  • Use an elastic bandage or compression sleeve to reduce swelling.
  • Elevate the knee above heart level when resting to further reduce swelling.

Aspiration of Fluid:

  • In cases where there is significant swelling and discomfort, a healthcare provider may drain excess fluid from the bursa using a needle (aspiration).

Physical Therapy:

  • A physical therapist can provide exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee, improving flexibility and reducing strain on the bursa.

Steroid Injections:

  • Corticosteroid injections may be considered in cases where conservative measures are ineffective in reducing inflammation and pain.

Conclusion

Knee tendon bursitis is a common condition characterized by inflammation of the bursa located over the front of the knee. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment, including rest, ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy, can help relieve symptoms and promote healing. Individuals experiencing persistent knee pain or swelling should seek medical evaluation to determine the underlying cause and receive timely treatment.

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