Are you experiencing a sharp pain when kneeling? Does one or both of your knees feel swollen and inflamed? If so, you may be suffering from a very common condition known as housemaid’s knee. The official medical name for this condition is prepatellar bursitis, a condition that results from the bursa overlying the knee cap becoming tender and inflamed. Not only can prepatellar bursitis or knee bursitis cause a sharp pain when kneeling on the floor, it can also cause discomfort when walking or going up and down stairs.
What causes the symptoms of knee bursitis? This condition arises when the small fluid-filled sac known as a bursa overlying the kneecap becomes irritated and inflamed. This usually occurs after you’ve spent a great deal of time kneeling on a hard surface which is why it’s called housemaid’s knee, stemming from the fact that many housemaid’s spent time on their knees scrubbing floors. You can bet these hard working ladies experienced their share of prepatellar bursitis! Other symptoms of knee bursitis include knee redness and swelling particularly when pressure is applied to the knees, as when kneeling.
If you’re experiencing a sharp pain when kneeling, it’s important to see your doctor for a definitive diagnosis. If there’s a history of injury, your doctor may want to take an x-ray to rule out a fracture. If the x-ray is negative, you doctor should be able to tell by physical exam and your history of sharp pain when kneeling that you have prepatellar bursitis.
Once the diagnosis is made, you’ll probably be given anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and swelling and be encouraged to rest and apply ice to the affected knee. If the symptoms of knee bursitis fail to resolve within a few weeks, your doctor may want to drain the fluid from the bursal sac to promote healing. Usually cortisone is injected at the same time to reduce the risk of knee bursitis returning.
Once your symptoms of knee bursitis resolve, it’s important to take measures to prevent a recurrence. If you work a job that requires constant kneeling, you can invest in a pair of knee pads to cushion your knee against hard surfaces that can irritate the bursa. Once you’ve had one episode of knee bursitis, your risk of future episodes is higher. Avoid kneeling as much as possible and make sure when you do it’s on a soft, padded surface. It may also help to apply ice to your knees on a nightly basis if you’re required to kneel on the job during the day.
There’s no doubt that knee bursitis can be an uncomfortable condition, but with anti-inflammatory medications, ice, and a little TLC, you’ll soon be experiencing less discomfort.