Bursitis is the inflammation, irritation, or swelling of a bursa. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac located near the joints. Its purpose is to reduce friction between bones and tendons during movement.
You have about 160 bursae in your body. However, the ones that are most likely to cause trouble are located near the hip, shoulders, and knees. Bursitis usually develops in areas where repetitive movements occur the most, and it can also develop due to injury.
There are different causes of bursitis. For example, the bursae can fill with fluid and blood due to trauma or repetitive movement, or gout can lead to deposits of crystals in the bursae.
Below, we asked Dr. Shoeb Mohiuddin, our expert at Regenerative Pain & Spine, to explain how bursitis affects the knees.
What are the signs of knee bursitis?
Signs of bursitis in the knee include swelling, tenderness, warmth, and pain when moving. However, knee bursitis is less painful than knee arthritis.
Symptoms of knee bursitis may develop after prolonged time kneeling on hard surfaces, trauma to the knee, or bacterial infections.
Preventing knee bursitis
If you have a job that puts pressure on your knees, you may be able to prevent bursitis by wearing knee pads and taking frequent breaks.
Also, avoid excessive squatting when working out. Being at a healthy weight and staying active can take some of the pressure off your knees. However, lifting weights that are too heavy can wear down your joints and cause inflammation in your knees.
Bursitis home care and when it’s time to see a doctor
Sometimes, you can reduce the symptoms of bursitis with rest. Apply ice if there’s swelling and tenderness, and apply heat after the inflammation is gone.
You may need medical attention if you have a fever or notice a lump on your knee. Pain or discomfort that doesn’t improve with rest can also indicate that you need medical attention. Left untreated, bursitis can lead to chronic inflammation and pain due to the thickening of the bursa.
Because the bursa is responsible for keeping knee movements smooth and reducing friction between bones and tendons, a permanently damaged bursa can lead to muscle loss due to reduced mobility.
Bursitis treatment options
Depending on the cause of bursitis and the severity of its symptoms, Dr. Mohiuddin may recommend either pain medications, steroid injections, draining the bursa with a needle, or antibiotics.
If you suspect knee bursitis is the cause of your symptoms, schedule an appointment to get prompt treatment.