Most cases of bursitis can be treated at home. The pain should go away in a few weeks although the swelling may take longer to completely disappear.
Treatment to ease pain and discomfort of knee bursitis:
• Rest the affected area: try not to move the joint too much, and avoid movements that worsen the pain.
• Apply ice: hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on the area for around 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This helps to reduce the inflammation
• Elevate your knee: Prop up the affected knee on pillows – keep the area raised to the level of your heart. This may ease the swelling.
• Apply compression: Using a compressive wrap or knee sleeve can help reduce swelling.
• Medicate: Over-the-counter pain anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen will help relieve the pain and speed up your recovery
See your doctor if:
• Your symptoms do not improve or are getting worse after two weeks
• You have a high temperature
• You cannot move the joint or have severe pain in the joint
If an infection has caused the knee bursitis, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotic treatment.
Your doctor might recommend one or more treatment approaches.
• Physical Therapy – your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist, who can help you with exercises to improve joint flexibility and strengthen knee muscles.
• A knee brace or sleeve might help to give more support and control swelling.
• Steroid injection. If the bursitis is persistent and not responding to basic treatments, your doctor might inject a steroid drug into the affected joint to reduce the inflammation. It should work quickly, but you your knee might be painful and swollen from the injection for a few days.
• Aspiration. Your doctor uses a needle to drain the excess fluid out of your knee. It might hurt for a few days afterward and you will need to wear a knee immobilizer for a short period after the injection to reduce the chance of the swelling recurring.
• Surgery. If the bursitis doesn’t respond to treatment or keeps coming back, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the bursa – but this is usually the last resort.
There are a number of precautions you can take to prevent getting bursitis:
• Use kneepads or supports to protect your knees when putting a lot of pressure on joints – for example, when kneeling
• Rest your knees – take regular breaks during physical activities that involve repetitive joint movements.
• Sit, don’t squat. This will put less strain your knees.
• Stay a healthy weight – being overweight puts added pressure on your joints
• Make sure your walking or running shoes fit properly.
• Warm up properly before exercising
• Avoid knocking or banging your joints
• Clean any cuts on elbows and knees to prevent infections
• Don’t overdo it.