Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)

Prepatellar bursitis — also known as kneecap bursitis — is a common inflammation of the prepatellar bursa, a fluid-filled sac that covers the front of the kneecap. Kneecap bursitis results in pain and swelling at the front of the knee. Most cases of prepatellar bursitis can be treated from home with rest.

What You Need To Know About Prepatellar Bursitis

What is Prepatellar Bursitis?

Your knee contains a bursa to help cushion it from damage. These fluid-filled sacs protect the bones and tissue of the knee. Usually, these structures lay flat against your skin and bones, and you do not notice them.

However, when this sac becomes irritated, damaged, or infected, it becomes inflamed and produces an excess of fluid, which causes pain in the knee and visible swelling. Kneecap bursitis may cause the knee to seem like it is bulging out. Due to its prevalence in professions that involve frequent kneeling, prepatellar bursitis is also referred to as housemaid's knee, carpet layer's knee, coal miner's knee, or carpenter's knee.

Finding the best possible prepatellar bursitis treatment starts with visiting Resurgens Orthopaedics. Visit a knee specialist at one of our Metro Atlanta Locations today!

What Causes Prepatellar Bursitis?

Chronic prepatellar bursitis results from repeated overuse or pressure to your knee, such as frequent kneeling. Activities such as carpet-laying or gardening that involve frequent kneeling can put you at a greater risk for the condition. Those with rheumatoid arthritis or gout may also be predisposed to developing bursitis.

The acute form of prepatellar bursitis typically results from trauma, such as a forceful impact on your knee or an infection. Sports injuries and falls frequently precipitate bouts of prepatellar bursitis.

Less common is infectious prepatellar bursitis, in which a wound to the knee leads to the bursae becoming infected. This form of prepatellar bursitis requires prompt medical attention.

Prepatellar Bursitis Symptoms

The most common prepatellar bursitis symptoms are pain with movement, swelling at the front of the kneecap, and tenderness of the knee. Prepatellar bursitis caused by infection may produce fluid and redness, as well as fever and chills.

The onset of prepatellar bursitis may be quick in cases of acute bursitis resulting from injury, while chronic symptoms may develop slowly over time.

How is Prepatellar Bursitis Diagnosed?

Prepatellar bursitis can typically be diagnosed via a physical exam. To make an accurate diagnosis, your Resurgens physician will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and general level of activity. They will perform a thorough physical exam, looking for pain and swelling and testing the range of motion of your knee.

Your physician may recommend X-ray, MRI, or CT imaging to determine if there is an injury to the knee contributing to your condition. If the infection is suspected, they may draw fluid from your bursa sac with a fine needle to check the liquid for infection.

Prepatellar Bursitis Treatment

Treatment options for kneecap bursitis include rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medications. Patients should avoid kneeling or use knee-pads when possible. Your Resurgens physician may drain fluid from a swollen bursa to help the knee heal.

Kneecap bursitis that is caused by an infection may be treated with antibiotics. If these methods are not successful, surgery may be required.

Non-Surgical Prepatellar Bursitis Treatment

Kneecap bursitis improves over time without surgical intervention if no infection is present. Nonsurgical treatment is aimed at symptom relief.

  • Avoid activity that exacerbates knee pain.
  • Ice the affected knee at regular intervals, usually 3-4 times a day for 20 minutes.
  • Elevate the affected leg except when it is necessary to walk.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen may relieve pain and control inflammation. Acetaminophen can be used as an alternative if you cannot tolerate NSAIDs or are allergic.
  • Physical therapy and/or bracing may also be recommended.

Surgical Prepatellar Bursitis Treatment

If nonsurgical treatments are not effective, your physician may recommend surgical intervention. These could include:

  • Drainage of the bursa with a needle (aspiration) and injection of a corticosteroid into the bursa. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that are more powerful than those taken by mouth.
  • Surgical removal of the bursa.

Prepatellar bursitis pain can put your whole life on pause. Get moving again by visiting one of our Metro Atlanta locations.

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