If you have unusual difficulty bending your knee with painful swelling and inflammation in the area, you may be experiencing knee bursitis.
Knee bursitis is common among patients that kneel on hard surfaces frequently, such as plumbers or carpenters. However, a single, direct trauma to the knee also can cause knee bursitis.
Regardless of the cause, knee bursitis can cause severe pain and increase the risk of infection. If you have knee bursitis, monitoring your symptoms and understanding when to seek treatment is crucial.
Carolinas Pain Center is here to help you navigate your symptoms and treatment options.
What is knee bursitis?
Bursitis gets its name from bursae, which are small sacs filled with a jelly-like fluid. Bursae are located between bones and soft tissue and exist to reduce friction between soft tissue and bones.
Bursae are located in numerous places throughout the body, such as the knees, hips, shoulders, and heels. Bursitis occurs when any of these bursae experience a buildup of excess fluid and become inflamed. These bursae are at risk of becoming irritated and inflamed, but knee bursitis is one of the most common forms.
When the bursae in the knee are irritated and produce too much liquid, they swell and put pressure on the kneecap or joint. Patients with knee bursitis will likely experience a loss of mobility and tenderness around the swollen area.
Is knee bursitis a form of arthritis?
Arthritis and bursitis share some symptoms and impact similar parts of the body, but it is important to understand the key differences between the conditions.
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both of these types of arthritis are chronic conditions, which means patients can manage symptoms and pain levels but cannot fully “cure” their arthritis. With arthritis, the affected bones, joints, and cartilage are irreparably damaged.
On the other hand, bursitis is a temporary condition often caused by injury, overuse, or infection. While bursitis causes painful inflammation and swelling in the knee, it does not cause long-term damage.
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Knee Bursitis Symptoms
For many people, symptoms of knee bursitis develop gradually. Since bursitis can be caused by daily overuse and friction, fluid in the bursae surrounding the knee can gradually increase over time. When knee bursitis sets in slowly, patients experience a worsening of symptoms over time.
For patients whose knee bursitis comes from a singular traumatic event to the knee, like a sudden blow or fall, onset may be rapid. In this case, inflammation and swelling in the bursae around the knee will appear quickly.
Whether symptoms appear gradually or all at once, people experiencing knee bursitis will often experience symptoms like:
- Swelling around the affected area
- Decreased ability to fully bend or extend the knee
- Warmth surrounding the affected area
- Pain that worsens with movement, though pain can also occur when at rest
- Fever, if the bursae is infected
Most people experience aseptic (non-infected) bursitis, but bursitis can lead to infection. Septic (infected) bursitis requires immediate medical attention.
Knee Bursitis Treatment
The first step in treatment is to determine the cause of your knee pain. If you are experiencing knee bursitis, your doctor will offer a range of treatment options. Common options to treat knee bursitis include:
- At-home remedies, like rest, ice, compression, and elevation
- Medication to treat pain and decrease inflammation
- Knee braces, if patients cannot entirely avoid kneeling
- Physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility
Many people will notice relief in symptoms from these treatment options within a couple of weeks. However, if patients are suffering from severe symptoms or long-term symptoms, doctors might suggest treatment options like:
- Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation
- Aspiration to reduce excess fluid in the bursae and decrease inflammation
Treatment options are designed to alleviate symptoms and decrease pain, but bursitis typically takes weeks to fully heal. Patients must rest their knee and allow time for recovery so that they can avoid reinjury or chronic bursitis.
Knee Bursitis Treatment in Charlotte, NC
If you reside in the Charlotte area and are struggling with the symptoms of knee bursitis, we are here to help.
At Carolinas Pain Center, our experienced pain specialists are prepared to suggest the best knee bursitis treatment options for you. Don’t suffer the symptoms of knee bursitis, burning pain, or inflammation alone. Book an appointment at Carolinas Pain Center today.