The Swell Behind Knee Bursitis

Symptoms and diagnosis for Knee Bursitis
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

Knee Bursitis Main

What is define by Knee Bursitis?

Knee bursitis is inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac (bursa) situated near your knee joint. Bursae reduce friction and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons, muscles and skin near your joints.

Any of the bursa in your knee can become inflamed, but knee bursitis most commonly occurs over the kneecap or on the inner side of your knee below the joint.

Knee bursitis is often caused by pressure from constant kneeling. Plumbers, roofers, carpet layers, coal miners, and gardeners are at greater risk for developing the condition.

A direct blow to the front of knee can also cause knee bursitis. Athletes who participate in sports in which direct blows or falls on the knee are common, such as football, wrestling, or basketball, are at greater risk for the condition.

Other people who are more susceptible to the condition include those with rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

What are some symptoms of Knee Bursitis?

Usually, symptoms worsen over time and are as a result of overuse. These symptoms include

  • Swelling
  • Warm feeling in the area
  • Tenderness and then developing into knee pain
  • Restriction of movement – as the condition deteriorates

In addition to physical damage, the condition can also be a result of a bacterial infection of the bursa or arthritis of your knee.

“Bursitis can affect individuals of any age. However as we age the skin overlying the knee slowly begins to thin. With this thinning there is less cushion for the underlying bursae. As such, older individuals are at greater risk for knee bursitis.”

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What types of diagnosis?

During the physical examination, our Specialist will inspect your affected knee and compare it to your healthy knee. He will examine your knee, checking for tenderness, and will also assess the range of motion in your knee and whether pain prevents you from bending it.


  • X-rays. X-rays provide clear pictures of bone. Our doctor may order them to make sure there is not a fracture that is causing your symptoms.
  • Other imaging tests. The diagnosis of bursitis is usually made on physical examination, but computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be ordered to check for other soft tissue injury.
  • Aspiration. If our doctor is concerned about the possibility of infection, he or she may aspirate (draw fluid with a needle) the bursa and send this sample to the lab for analysis.

Possible treatment methods?

The treatment of knee bursitis depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.


  • Physical Therapy: Our Specialist will work with your physical therapist to develop several exercises to target your exact condition. He or she may also use massage and ultrasound techniques to relieve your pain. When you go home, you will have exercises to complete on a daily basis to speed your recovery. You can expect to be involved in physical therapy for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Prescription Medication: Our Orthopedist will be able to prescribe more effective pain and anti-inflammatory pain medication that will help you heal faster.
  • Massage: Our therapist will massage the muscles to reduce the strain on your knees which will relieve the pain you are experiencing. Massage of this area will also increase the blood flow which will promote healing.
  • Injection: Injection helps reduce inflammation and lubricants are similar to natural fluids in your knee joint to reduce any friction, as a result of movement.
  • Drainage: Often the bursa is filled with a fluid that inhibits movement of your knee. It is possible to drain the fluid with a needle and then a small amount of cortisone is injected into the bursa to control the inflammation.


Surgery may be performed when the damage to the ligaments is severe and there is evidence of instability, or when the injury doesn’t improve with nonsurgical treatment. Surgical options include:

  • Arthroscopy: During an arthroscopy, our surgeon looks inside the joint to see if there are any loose fragments of bone or cartilage.
  • Reconstruction: For reconstruction surgery, our surgeon will repair the torn ligament with stitches. They may also use other ligaments or tendons around the foot or ankle to repair the damaged ligaments.

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