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Knee Bursa and the Condition That Can Affect the Bursa

What is Knee Bursa?

Bursa are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction and create a cushion between the structures. There are several bursae in the knee present around the patella, tendons, and ligaments.

The musculoskeletal system of the body enables movement. It involves the movement of skin, tendons, muscles, joints, and bones. There are more than 150 bursa present all over the body and are located around the major joints including shoulders, hips, and elbow.(1)

The different types of the bursa present in the knee are:

  • Prepatellar Bursa: It lies between the patella and the overlying connective tissue.
  • Suprapatellar Bursa: This bursa lies between the thigh bone and the quadriceps muscles.
  • Superficial and Deep Infrapatellar Bursa: The superficial infrapatellar bursa is located between the tibial tubercle and overlying skin. The deep infrapatellar bursa cushions the patellar tendon’s back part against the tibia.
  • Pes Anserine Bursa: This bursa is present between the hamstring tendon and superficial to the medial collateral tendon.
  • Iliotibial Bursa: This is the largest bursa in the body and is known to protect the iliotibial band’s end against the bony insertion in the tibia.

Condition That Can Affect the Bursa

There are issues that people can experience with bursa.

Bursitis

One of the most common conditions affecting the bursa is bursitis. Bursitis is caused by sudden and prolonged inflammation of the bursa and can occur in any bursa in the knee. Symptoms of bursitis include pain, swelling, and limited movement. Treatment for bursitis includes rest, ice, compression, and over-the-counter medication to relieve pain. In some cases, a steroid injection may be helpful in giving symptomatic relief from the inflammation.

Septic Bursitis

Another condition that can affect the bursa is septic bursitis. Septic bursitis occurs due to an infection in the bursa and can be caused by an injury that breaks into the skin or by an infection occurring at a distant site. This can occur due to micro-trauma or punctures that occur in the skin.

Infection occurring at distant sites may also reach the bursa.

If appropriate treatment is not received chronic septic bursitis may develop, which may lead to:

  • Continuous pain
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Weakness or rupture of the overlying ligaments and tendons

Symptoms of septic bursitis include redness, pitting edema, warmth, and pain in the area around the bursa. Treatment for septic bursitis includes antibiotics to clear the infection and aspiration to remove the infected fluid.

Ruptured Bursa

Ruptured bursa is another condition that can affect the bursa. This occurs due to a tear in the bursa, which can lead to inflamed or infected synovial fluid leaking into the joint and surrounding tissue. Symptoms of ruptured bursa include pain, swelling, and limited movement. Treatment for ruptured bursa includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter medication to relieve pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tear.

Calcific Bursitis

Calcific bursitis is another condition that can affect the bursa. This occurs due to the collection of calcific deposits within the bursa and can be caused by long-standing untreated bursitis. Symptoms of calcific bursitis include pain, swelling, and limited movement. Treatment for calcific bursitis includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter medication to relieve pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the calcific deposits.

There are also certain lifestyle changes that can be adopted to prevent and help with bursitis infection including avoiding movements that worsen the condition, using padding to protect bursae, performing stretching and core strengthening, avoiding prolonged kneeling, avoiding running downhill, avoiding deep knee bends, avoiding wearing shoes with cleats, changing shoes every 3 months, stretching and strengthening the thighs, and wearing properly fitting shoes.

In conclusion, knee bursa is an important structure in the knee joint that helps to reduce friction and wear and tear on the joint. However, there are certain conditions that can affect the bursa and cause pain, inflammation, and limited movement. Treatment for these conditions includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter medication to relieve pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tear or remove the calcific deposits. By adopting certain lifestyle changes and avoiding triggers, bursitis can be prevented and the condition can be managed effectively.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 29, 2023

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