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Condition. Knee bursitis

By Editorial Team (Y)
November 24, 2021

What is knee bursitis?

Knee bursitis is a condition characterized by an inflammation of one of the bursae found near the knee joint. Bursae are fluid-filled little sacs. Their job is to provide cushioning and reduce friction between the muscles and tendons and the bones located near the joints.

Each knee has 11 bursae, any of which can cause knee bursitis, but it usually happens in one of two sites: on the inside of the knee just below the joint or directly over the kneecap.

Knee bursitis is painful, and it limits mobility in the knee. Treating knee bursitis typically includes a number of self-administered treatments and physician-administered interventions to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Causes of knee bursitis

The most common causes of knee bursitis include:

  • Pressure to the knee that is sustained and/or frequent, such as kneeling 
  • A direct, forceful injury to the knee
  • Bacterial infection can cause knee bursitis
  • A complication that results from rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or osteoarthritis

Knee bursitis risk factors

The following factors may increase the risk of developing knee bursitis:

  • Excessive kneeling. Plumbers, gardeners, carpet layers, or other individuals who work at jobs that require them to kneel for extended periods are at elevated risk of developing knee bursitis. 
  • Participation in some sports activities. Sports activities that are likely to result in direct hits to the knees or frequent falls may increase the chances of knee bursitis. These include football, volleyball, and wrestling. Runners are at risk for inflammation and pain in the bursa below the kneecap on the inside of the leg. This is called the anserine bursa. 
  • Osteoarthritis and obesity. The anserine bursa is also more commonly inflamed in women who are obese who also have osteoarthritis. 

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