A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac found between soft tissues and bones. It lubricates and acts as a cushion to decrease friction between bones when they move. Bursitis refers to the inflammation and swelling of the bursa. Inflammation of the bursa in front of the kneecap (patella) is known as kneecap bursitis or prepatellar bursitis.
Kneecap bursitis is often caused due to pressure applied on the knees with chronic kneeling, conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis, a direct blow to the kneecap, or due to infection.
Symptoms of kneecap bursitis include pain and swelling in front of the knee. You may experience tenderness, warmth and redness in the front of the knee.
Diagnosis is made by reviewing your history and performing a focused physical examination. Fluid from the bursa may be removed for lab analysis. Dr. Fischer may order imaging studies, such as X-rays, MRI, and CT to rule out other causes.
Kneecap bursitis can be effectively treated with conservative therapy such as sufficient rest, ice, and elevation of the affected leg to reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed to alleviate pain and swelling. Antibiotics will be prescribed if the bursitis is due to an infection. Sometimes the bursa may be aspirated with a needle to remove fluid for analysis. Corticosteroids may be injected at the region of the inflamed bursa to relieve pain and swelling. Surgery is performed only when conservative treatment is ineffective, which involves surgical removal of the bursa.