Prepatellar Bursitis

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The human body has over 140 bursae. Bursae are small sacs of fluid that help tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin glide over bones when we move our joints. These bursae can become irritated and inflamed leading to a condition called bursitis. Prepatellar bursitis is specific to the front of the kneecap. This condition causes the bursa to fill with liquid which causes swelling and pressure on the knee. 


Knee pain

Prepatellar bursitis can be the result of trauma to the front of the kneecap. Athletes who play physical sports, such as basketball, football, or any form of mixed martial arts have a greater chance of developing this condition. The trauma can be caused by a strike to the knee or by falling on the knee.

Prepatellar bursitis is often caused by the pressure created from constant kneeling. Many people with physical jobs including plumbing, roofing, and gardening are at a greater risk for developing this condition.

Bursitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection. People who have rheumatoid arthritis or gout are susceptible. If bacteria breaks through the skin, the bursa can become infected. This is known as infectious bursitis. Though less common, it is very serious and requires immediate attention.


Fluid-like swelling in the kneecap.

• Pain when moving joints.

• Warm to touch.

• Tenderness.

Knee bursitis diagram


Nonsurgical treatment is usually effective if the bursa is not infected. Doctors may prescribe a change in daily activities. Substituting activities that cause pain with low impact exercises can be beneficial. Icing the knee can also help to reduce swelling. Elevating the knee will also help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

If the previous treatments are ineffective at reducing pain and swelling, a doctor may drain the bursa with a needle. After draining, the doctor will inject an anti-inflammatory drug called corticosteroid. When the bursa becomes infected, antibiotics are a common treatment.


Kneeling in garden

Before physical activity, it is important to warm up and cool down to prevent injury from overloading muscles. Kneepads are a great option for athletes, such as volleyball players, who constantly fall on their knees. These may also be useful for those who are constantly putting pressure on their knees such as gardeners. Stretching and resting the knees are both great options to avoid prolonged stress. Applying ice and elevating the knee after exercise can also help reduce inflammation. If prepatellar bursitis symptoms occur, visit a doctor.

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