What Are the Treatments for Knee Bursitis?

Knee bursitis pain, tenderness, and swelling can be hard to manage. How do you find the best treatment?

It depends on what’s causing your problems. Your knees each have a bursa sac that’s filled with fluid. Sometimes they get inflamed or infected.

Inflamed Bursa Treatment

Try these simple steps first:

Rest: Take it easy for a few days. Don’t do anything that seems to make your symptoms worse. You can still do low-impact or gentle exercises like a light walk or stationary bike ride.

Ice: Put an ice pack on your knee about 3 to 4 times a day. You can also use a bag of frozen veggies like peas or corn. Leave it on for 20 minutes at a time.

Medicate: Take a mild, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.

Elevate: Prop up the sore knee while you rest on the couch. This may ease the swelling.

When you sleep, try not to lie on the side with the inflamed knee. This may ease pressure on the sore joint. You can also put a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side.

If You Need Stronger Treatment

Your doctor might try:

Aspiration: She uses a needle to drain the fluid out of your knee. She can do this in her office. You won’t need to go to the hospital. It might hurt for a few days afterward. You’ll also wear a knee wrap to keep swelling down.

Steroid injection: The doctor can also give you a steroid shot in the swollen knee to ease inflammation. It’s a stronger dose of the medicine than you could take as a pill. It should work quickly, but you your knee might be painful and swollen for a few days.

Physical therapy: Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist. You’ll learn stretches and exercises to make your knee muscles stronger and the joint more flexible. The therapist can also fit you with a knee brace or sleeve to give you more support and control swelling.

Continued

Infected Bursa Treatment

If your doctor sees signs of infection, she’ll prescribe antibiotics. If they don’t do the trick, she can also use a needle to drain the fluid.

If Nothing Helps

When bursitis doesn’t respond to treatment or flares up all the time, it could be time for surgery to remove the bursa. You and your doctor will decide if this is the right choice for you. It’s usually the last resort.

How to Prevent Bursitis

Follow these easy steps:

  • Use kneepads or supports for any sports, work, or household tasks that strain your knees.
  • Rest your knees from time to time. Stretch them so they stay limber. Don’t overdo it. If one type of exercise leaves you hurting, try something else. Ice your sore joint after activity.
  • Sit, don’t squat. Use a stool when you weed the garden. You’ll put less strain your knees.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Extra pounds put added pressure on your knees and could make your joint problems worse.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on May 26, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Prepatellar (Kneecap) Bursitis.”

National Health Services: “Treating bursitis.”

MayoClinic.org: “Knee bursitis: Self-management,” “Knee bursitis: Treatment.”

A Healthier Michigan: “Grow Your Garden Without Aches and Pains.”

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