Understanding Knee Bursitis

If you are reading this, chances are at some point you have experienced knee pain. That is not surprising, especially since one third of Americans will experience knee pain at one point or another during their lifetime. Knee pain can be brought on by a variety of factors, such as injury or surgery. Oftentimes everyday wear and tear can be the root of knee pain. There are several structures in the knee that can be the source of the problem – ligaments, tendons, and muscles. 

Another one of those areas can be the bursa. Bursas are fluid filled sacs and their job is to decrease friction and act as a cushion to the surrounding structures of the joint.  When bursas become irritated or inflamed, you can experience bursitis. The onset of bursitis can come from a blow to the knee, a fall or sustained knee pressure. However, most often bursitis occurs from overuse of a repetitive motion, causing friction and irritation to the bursa. Regardless of the cause, the knee pain associated with bursitis can be debilitating and persistent.

Some signs and symptoms that might be associated with bursitis are:

  • Pain with movement
  • Feeling warm to the touch
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Swollen appearance
  • Painful when you move it or even at rest

If recognized early, bursitis may be manageable through rest, activity modification, icing, and anti-inflammatories; if deemed appropriate from your primary care provider.  If knee pain continues to persist, physical therapy can be an effective treatment to explore. 

At Penn Therapy & Fitness, our specialized physical therapists are trained to provide physical therapy to relieve knee pain. During your initial evaluation, one of our physical therapists will listen to your personal story, assess your knee’s range of motion, strength, and flexibility, then complete a functional assessment. After determining the cause of your knee pain, the physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your goals and specific limitations.

During care, emphasis is also placed on injury prevention strategies while providing education of best practices to managing pain and symptoms outside of the gym. Your therapist will work with you to develop a rehabilitation plan that’s right for you, including:

  • Education about activity modification
  • Range of motion exercises to regain flexibility
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Therapeutic pain management
  • Manual therapy

To prevent a recurrence of bursitis, there are activity modifications to decrease the return of symptoms, including tips such as:

  • Using external cushioning (kneeling pad or wearing kneepads) when you need to work on your knees (gardening) or are participating in sports that put your knees at risk
  • Frequent rest breaks to avoid prolonged positioning 
  • Avoid particular repetitive motions (certain types of bending/squatting)
  • Achieve or maintain a healthy weight will decrease the stress and strain on the joint

Get a leg up with managing your knee pain today by scheduling an initial evaluation at one of Penn Therapy & Fitness locations. Click here to find a location near you!