Prepatellar bursitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bursa outside of the patella (kneecap). You will experience pain and swelling on the kneecap. Often ice, anti- inflammatory medications, and limiting repetitive contact with the knee can help resolve the inflammation and swelling from the bursitis. Redness or warmth could indicate that the bursa is infected (septic bursitis).
Mechanism of injury
If you have prepatellar bursitis, you likely developed it over time without any specific traumatic event. It is especially common among manual laborers, such as carpenters and mechanics, who kneel frequently. Frequent kneeling puts pressure on the bursa causing it to become inflamed and swollen.
Treatment for prepatellar bursitis
Most patients can get over prepatellar bursitis without surgery. You could try icing your knee several times a day to decrease the inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medications might have a similar effect. Some doctors try to remove fluid, but it often fails to get rid of the swelling. Also multiple attempts at draining the fluid potentially increases the risk of infecting the bursa, leading to a septic bursitis that often requires urgent surgery. Your doctor might drain the fluid from the bursa and inject cortisone into the bursa to try to keep the inflammation from returning.
Surgery for prepatellar bursitis
On rare occasions, nonsurgical treatments including rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, avoiding direct pressure on the bursa, and even repeat attempts at drainage are unsuccessful. In this case surgery can be useful.
The surgeon makes a small incision over the bursa and removes the entire bursa. Removing the bursa surgically usually successfully resolves the problem.
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