Knee Bursitis (Pes Anserine Bursitis)

What is knee bursitis?

Bursitis is an irritation or inflammation of a bursa in your knee. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between tendons, bones, and skin. This condition is also called pes anserine bursitis.

The pes anserine bursa is located on the inner side of the knee just below the knee joint. Tendons of three muscles attach to the shin bone (tibia) over this bursa. These muscles act to bend the knee, bring the knees together, and cross the legs.

Knee bursitis is common in swimmers who do the breaststroke and is sometimes called breaststroker's knee.

What is the cause?

Knee bursitis can result from:

  • Overuse, as in breaststroke kicking or kicking a ball repeatedly
  • Repeated pivoting from a deep knee bend
  • A direct blow to the area

What are the symptoms?

Knee bursitis causes pain on the inner side of the knee, just below the joint. You may have pain when you bend or straighten your leg.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider examines your knee for tenderness over the pes anserine bursa.

How is it treated?

To treat this condition:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on your knee every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time until the pain goes away.
  • Raise your knee on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
  • Wrap an elastic bandage around your knee to reduce any swelling or to prevent swelling from occurring.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
  • Your provider may give you a shot of a steroid medicine in the bursa.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises to help you recover.

Ask your provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How long will the effects last?

Pain from knee bursitis usually goes away within a few weeks. You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until your knee has healed. If you continue doing activities that cause pain, your symptoms will return and it will take longer to recover.

How can I help prevent knee bursitis?

Knee bursitis is best prevented by a proper warm-up that includes stretching of the hamstring muscles, the inner thigh muscles, and the top thigh muscles. Gradually increasing your activity level, rather than doing everything at once, will also help prevent its development.

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Published by RelayHealth.
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