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 Prepatellar Bursitis. These include:
This stands for Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. PRICE is a great treatment tool to help reduce pain and swelling with bursitis and it helps to speed up recovery. Visit the PRICE section to find out how to use it safely and effectively
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) can also help to reduce the swelling and pain associated with prepatellar bursitis. You should always check with your doctor before taking medications
Prepatellar bursitis is often aggravated by tight muscles in the leg, so stretching these muscles out relieves the pressure on the bursa so it stops producing excess fluid.
To check if your muscles are tight and to find out how to stretch them, visit the Housemaids Knee Stretches section to help reduce your pain and speed up your recovery
4) Avoid Aggravating Activities
It really helps to avoid activities that place pressure on the kneecap and prepatellar bursae.g. kneeling and squatting
5) Gel Knee Pads
If you do have to kneel, wearing gel knee pads can make all the difference with bursitis. They take the pressure off the bursa and are excellent for eliminating pain and irritation when you do have to kneel. Visit the gel knee pad section to find out more.
Ice is a great natural treatment tool to help to reduce the swelling and pain from prepatellar bursitis, however if used incorrectly, it can actually make things worse. Visit the Ice section to find out how to safely and effectively use ice or the ice wrap section for different ways to apply ice
If the swelling in the prepatellar bursa becomes extreme, then your doctor can drain the fluid out of the bursa with a needle, known as aspiration
8) Steroid Injections
Cortisone injections into the bursa can help to reduce swelling and pain associated with prepatellar bursitis. You can find out more in the knee injections section
If your knee bursitis is due to an infection, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics. Usually after around three days of taking them, you should notice the symptoms starting to improve
Very occasionally, if all other treatments have failed and the prepatellar bursitis is causing significant problems, then surgery is required to remove the bursa
Generally, bursitis 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.
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: 21/9/18
Next Review Due: 21/9/20