What is bursitis?
Bursitis is a condition that affects small fluid-filled sacs in your body called bursae. Located next to many of your joints, including your knee, bursae serve as cushions between bone and soft tissue.
There are several bursae in your knee. One is located between the kneecap (patella) and the soft tissue under the skin. Other bursae are located above or below the kneecap. Some are closer to the skin, while others are deeper inside the joint.
Knee bursitis happens when one of these bursae becomes irritated and produces too much fluid. This causes painful pressure in the affected area.
The most common cause of bursitis is prolonged pressure on the knee. People who kneel on hard surfaces for long periods of time are at particularly high risk. Overuse through repetitive motion is also a common cause.
Many people develop bursitis from kneeling or crawling for extended periods of time. Jobs like carpet laying, roofing, and house cleaning can put you at higher risk of bursitis.
Repetitive motion can also cause bursitis, especially in the bursae that are located deeper under the skin. Runners and other athletes are more prone to this type of bursitis. Bursitis may also develop due to an infection or internal bleeding.
If you have knee bursitis, you may notice symptoms like:
- Pain with movement
- Fast swelling at the front of the knee
- Tenderness to the touch
Remedies for bursitis
If you do have bursitis, at-home treatments can reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following actions:
- Rest and elevate the affected leg whenever possible
- Apply compression to the affected knee
- Apply ice three or four times a day for 20 minutes per session
- Use a support tool like a brace, band, or splint
For infectious bursitis, the primary treatment is antibiotics. If you have non-infectious bursitis, your doctor will probably recommend that you start with home care and over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen.
If your bursitis doesn’t improve, your doctor may recommend an injected steroid. If you still have symptoms in six months to a year, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair damage and reduce pressure.
Exercises for bursitis symptoms
When you have knee bursitis, it’s important to avoid activities that make your symptoms worse. That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, but it does mean you have to think about substitutions. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends trying low-impact activities like cycling.
You can also do gentle strengthening and stretching exercises to help improve knee functions. Here are a few that your doctor might recommend:
Heel slide: Lie on your back with your unaffected knee bent and your affected knee straight. Slide the heel of the affected leg along the floor toward your buttock to bend the knee. Stop when you feel a gentle stretch in the knee.
Hold the stretch for 6 seconds, then slide your heel away from your body to straighten the leg. Repeat the exercise 8 to 12 times.
Straight-leg raises: Lie in the same position as you began the heel slide, on your back with your unaffected knee bent and the foot flat on the floor. Keep your affected leg straight and make sure you don’t arch your back or press your lower back into the floor.
Keeping your affected knee straight, press the back of the knee into the floor. This tightens the thigh muscles in that leg. Keeping those muscles tight, raise your leg so the heel is about a foot off the floor. Hold for 6 seconds, lower the leg slowly, and rest for 10 seconds.
Repeat the exercise 8 to 12 times.
Quad sets: Sit on the floor with your affected leg straight in front of you. Roll up a small towel and place it under the affected knee. Bend your other leg and rest the foot on the floor.
Press the back of your affected knee into the towel to tighten the thigh muscles of that leg. Hold for 6 seconds, release, and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise 8 to 12 times.
Tips for exercising with bursitis
No one exercise will be right for every person with knee bursitis. The right remedies and exercises will depend on what kind of knee bursitis you have and its cause. Always check with your doctor about whether a particular exercise is safe and potentially helpful.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging: "Bursae around the knee joints."
MyHealth.Alberta.ca: "Knee (Prepatellar) Bursitis: Exercises."
National Center for Biotechnology Information: "Bursitis."
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Bursitis."
OrthoInfo: "Prepatellar (Kneecap) Bursitis."
Top What Exercise Can I Do with Knee Bursitis Related Articles
BursitisA bursa is a fluid-filled sac found in the joints that cushions them. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, most commonly caused by repetitive motion. Bursitis can be caused by a bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics. Doctors also recommend icing and resting the joint.
Bursitis Symptoms and TreatmentsDiagnosed with bursitis? Learn about treatment and prevention for trochanteric bursitis, as well as hip, knee, shoulder and other bursitis types.
Calcific BursitisCalcific bursitis is the calcification of the bursa caused by chronic inflammation of the bursa. Calcific bursitis most commonly occurs in the shoulder. Calcific bursitis treatment includes medication for inflammation, ice, immobilization, cortisone injections, and occasionally surgical removal of the inflamed bursa.
How Do You Relieve Pain In The Back Of Your Knee?Learn what medical treatments can help relieve pain in the back of your knee and help you manage pain in the back of your knee.
Knee BursitisBursitis of the knee results when any of the three fluid-filled sacs (bursae) become inflamed due to injury or strain. Symptoms and signs include pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness. Treatment of knee bursitis depends on whether infection is involved. If the knee bursa is not infected, knee bursitis may be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Knee InjuryKnee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, a popping sound, and difficulty bending the leg. Treatment may involve resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the knee, in addition to wearing a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching the knee.
Knee Joint PictureThe knee joint has three parts. See a picture of Knee Joint and learn more about the health topic.
Knee PainAcute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee pain include redness, swelling, difficulty walking, and locking of the knee. To diagnose knee pain, a physician will perform a physical exam and also may order X-rays, arthrocentesis, blood tests, or a CT scan or MRI. Treatment of knee pain depends upon the cause of the pain.
Pain Management: All About Your KneesThey do their job so well that you might take them for granted. Learn how they're put together, what can go wrong with them, and what you can do about it when something does.
Knee Pain Dos and Don'tsYour knees go through a lot in the course of a day, and sometimes they can run into trouble. Here are a few things you can do when knee pain hits.
What Are 9 Ways That You Can Ruin Your Knees?Knee problems are typically caused by general wear and tear from daily activities, although injuries and osteoarthritis could also be responsible.
What Can Cause Pain Behind the Knee?What causes pain behind the knee? Learn about Baker's cyst and other causes of pain behind the knee and what to do about them.
What Is The Best Way to Treat Bursitis?Learn what medical treatments can treat your bursitis symptoms and ways to manage bursitis.
What Is the Home Remedy for Knee Pain? 10 Effective MeasuresKnee pain can be a recent malady—due to an injury or may be occurring for several years due to a joint condition such as osteoarthritis. Whatever be the reason, some home remedies will often work for both types of knee pain.