What is Housemaids Knee? Inflammation of the prepatellar bursa (small fluid filled sac) at the front of the knee
AKA? Prepatellar bursitis
Symptoms? Swelling at the front of the knee, pain, redness, limited knee movement
Causes? Excessive kneeling, a blow to the front of the knee or fall
Treatment?: PRICE, stretches, medication, gel knee pads, aspiration, injections
Recovery? Usually settles in a few weeks with correct treatment
Here, we will look at the common causes, symptoms, treatment options and recovery process for Housemaids Knee.
Housemaids Knee is the most common form of knee bursitis.
Bursa are small fluid filled sacs found all over the body. Their job is to prevent friction between bone and soft tissues (muscles, tendons, skin and ligaments).
When there is a lot of stress on a bursa, they fill with fluid. This is known as bursitis.
The prepatellar bursa sits at the front of the knee between the kneecap and the overlying skin.
When the prepatellar bursa gets irritated from friction or pressure, it produces extra fluid to protect the knee joint and this swelling is known as prepatellar bursitis, or more commonly, Housemaids Knee.
The most common cause of Housemaids knee is repetitive kneeling which causes friction and puts pressure on the bursa and kneecap.
The bursa gradually gets inflamed and swells, becoming painful and putting pressure on the surrounding structures.
Nowadays Housemaids Knee tends to affect
tradesmen and gardeners more than housemaids, thanks to the hoover!
Prepatellar bursitis can also be caused by a direct blown or fall onto the front of the knee. Occasionally it is caused by an infection.
You are at increased risk of
developing bursitis of the knee if you have an underlying inflammatory
condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The most common symptom of prepatellar bursitis is swelling at the front of the knee, a bit like a small squashy orange.
It may cause pain and redness over the front of the knee and make it difficult to bend the leg, kneel down or walk.
Usually the doctor will be able to diagnose prepatellar bursitis it just by looking at your leg - it doesn’t require an x-ray or MRI.
If the likely cause is an infection, the doctor will remove some of the fluid and have it tested, and you may then be given antibiotic.
There are a number of treatment options for Housemaids Knee including:
Generally, housemaids knee settles within a few weeks, if treated correctly. If you have already had it, it is advisable to avoid kneeling on hard surfaces by using some sort of cushioning such as gel pads to prevent recurrence.
The prepatellar bursa isn't the only bursa found at the front of the knee - the infrapatellar bursa sits slightly below the knee around the patellar tendon. If your pain and swelling is slightly below the knee rather than right over the front of the kneecap, have a look at the infrapatellar bursitis section.
Another common place to get bursitis is at the back of the knee, where there is inflammation of the popliteal bursa. You can find out more in the Bakers Cyst section.
Page Last Updated: 10/12/21
Next Review Due: 10/12/23