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What is Suprapatellar Bursitis & How is it Treated?

What Is Suprapatellar Bursitis?

Suprapatellar Bursitis is a pathological condition involving the knee in which there is inflammation of the suprapatellar bursa of the knee.1 A bursa is a fluid filled sac which prevents friction in between the bones by rubbing against each other. Repetitive overuse is the primary cause of Suprapatellar Bursitis, although a bacterial infection, a direct trauma, or even degenerative conditions like osteoporosis can cause Suprapatellar Bursitis.

The primary presenting feature of Suprapatellar Bursitis is severe pain in the knee with inability to ambulate for long distances or standing for prolonged period of time. It also becomes extremely difficult for the affected individual to stand for a prolonged period of time as a result of Suprapatellar Bursitis.

For treating a condition like Suprapatellar Bursitis, the individual needs medical care as well as certain lifestyle modifications so as to get relief from the symptoms.

What is Suprapatellar Bursitis & How is it Treated?

What Causes Suprapatellar Bursitis?

Some of the causes of Suprapatellar Bursitis are:

  • A direct trauma to the knee while playing contact sports like hockey, falls, motor vehicle collisions can cause suprapatellar bursitis
  • Infection either in the knee through an open wound or infection spread to the knee from other areas of the body can also cause suprapatellar bursitis.2
  • Excessive stress on the knee by lifting heavy objects repetitively.
  • Complications of musculoskeletal conditions like gout and arthritis can also result in the development of Suprapatellar Bursitis.
  • Lupus erythematosus is also believed to be a cause of this medical condition.

What Are The Symptoms Of Suprapatellar Bursitis?

Some of the symptoms of Suprapatellar Bursitis are:

  • Pain along with tenderness on palpation over the anterior aspect of the knee
  • Severe pain with passive flexion of the knee
  • Swelling over the upper portion of the patella can be symptom of suprapatellar bursitis
  • Generalized symptoms like fever and a general sense of malaise
  • Range of motion of the knee is restricted and the individual is unable to walk or stand for prolonged period of time without pain

How Is Suprapatellar Bursitis Treated?

Resting the knee for a few days and avoiding aggravating activities is the first line of treatment for Suprapatellar Bursitis. In case if the pain and inflammation does not resolve with that, then aggressive measures need to be taken for treatment of Suprapatellar Bursitis.

The treatment of Suprapatellar Bursitis is dependent on the cause. For cases where overuse or trauma is the cause of the condition then steroid injections are quite beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of pain and calming down the inflammation associated with suprapatellar bursitis.

In case if a bacterial infection is found to be the cause of the condition, then the patient will be first treated with a course of antibiotics to treat the infection and then a course of steroids are started to alleviate the symptoms of Suprapatellar Bursitis.

Once the inflammation and pain has calmed to a certain degree, then the patient will be sent to a physical therapist to strengthen knee and regain the lost range of motion. Diligent exercises will not only increase the flexibility and strength of the knee, but will also reduce the chances of a recurrence of injury significantly.

In severe cases of Suprapatellar Bursitis, the fluid buildup in the knee, which causes severe inflammation, will have to be drained out to decrease the inflammation and pain. This procedure is called aspiration. This is done when excessive fluid is accumulated within the bursa. Aspiration is quite a beneficial procedure to bring down the inflammation and pain in individuals with severe form of Suprapatellar Bursitis.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 8, 2019

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