Housemaids Knee also known as prepatellar bursitis or knee bursitis is a swelling of the bursa at the front of the knee. It can be caused by pressure or a direct blow to the knee. We examine the symptoms, causes and treatment of this knee injury.
Symptoms of Pre-Patella Bursitis
Symptoms of Housemaids knee include pain and tenderness on the kneecap and just below it. The kneecap or patella may be swollen and warm to the touch. Kneeling may be painful (hence the term housemaids knee because the house maid is on her knees polishing floors so much). An abscess or fluid filled lump may be visible over the patella. If the injury becomes chronic then there may be a tender lump floating underneath the skin on the kneecap.
Causes of Housemaids knee
Acute prepatellar bursitis can be caused by a direct blow or fall on the knee. This ruptures blood vessels which bleed into the bursa causing swelling and triggering an inflammation reaction in the walls of the bursa. Subsequently, the walls may then thicken, causing tenderness that may remain even after the swelling has reduced.
Acute knee bursitis can also be triggered by an infection as a result of a surface injury, such as a skin wound over the kneecap. In this case, bacteria may spread into the fluid within the pre-patellar bursa causing infection.
Chronic bursitis is a longer term problem which may recur over a period of time. Repeated damage to the knee for example from kneeling or work that involves alot of pressure on the kneecap thickens the walls of the bursa causing irritation.
Knee Bursitis Treatment
Acute Pre-patellar bursitis
- RICE (Rest , Ice, Compression, Elevation) technique.
- Taking NSAID's such as Ibuprofen.
- Heat treatment.
Chronic Pre-patellar bursitis
- Avoiding aggravating movements such as kneeling.
- If these cannot be avoided then knee pads or padded knee supports should be worn.
- If the swelling persists then a medical professional may aspirate (suck off) some of the fluid within the bursa.
- In cases where the bursa has become infected, anti-biotics may be prescribed.
- In more serious cases the bursa may be completely removed by surgical procedures.