Bursitis of the Knee

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Knee bursitis facts

  • A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between moving tissues of the body.
  • There are three major bursae of the knee.
  • Bursitis is usually not infectious, but the bursa can become infected.
  • Treatment of noninfectious bursitis includes rest, ice, and medications for inflammation and pain. Infectious bursitis is treated with antibiotics, aspiration, and surgery.

What is bursitis?

A bursa is a closed fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. Bursae is plural for bursa. The major bursae are located adjacent to the tendons near the large joints, such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. When a bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis. Most commonly, bursitis is caused by local soft tissue trauma or strain injury, and there is no infection (aseptic bursitis). On rare occasions, the bursa can become infected with bacteria. This condition is called septic bursitis.

What is knee bursitis?

The knee joint is surrounded by three major bursae. At the tip of the knee, over the kneecap bone, is the prepatellar bursa. This bursa can become inflamed (prepatellar bursitis) from direct trauma to the front of the knee. This commonly occurs when maintaining a prolonged kneeling position. It has been referred to as "housemaid's knee," "roofer's knee," and "carpet layer's knee," based on the patient's associated occupational histories.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2012

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