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Prepatellar Bursitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Prepatellar Bursitis

Prepatellar Bursitis - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

  • Prepatellar bursitis can occur to anyone, and the symptoms may not be evident at the beginning for some.
  • Often, this happens to people who work hours kneeling, especially plumbers and carpenters. The pain in the knee is due to the swelling of the bursa, which can be treated at home.
  • If the knee pain doesn't decrease after some time, consulting a doctor is a must to avoid severe damage.
  • Applying ice or taking over the counter pills for your knee pain can reduce it to a large extent.
  • One can prevent this by using knee pads or simply applying a pack of ice after a long day.


If you’re having mild pain in your knees even while resting, you may have prepatellar bursitis. It often occurs when there is excess fluid on the knee joint[1], and it is easily identifiable too. However, the pain is not severe compared to people with arthritis, but you shouldn’t ignore this mild pain.

It most commonly occurs in people who work long hours kneeling, such as gardeners, plumbers, and athletes, especially basketball and football players. Let’s find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments available for this.

What Is Prepatellar Bursitis?

Prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis is a common condition that may occur in everyone but is more common among plumbers, coal miners, and footballers. The knees have a bursa sac, a fluid-filled sac that reduces the friction between the tissues.

If you’re in a job where you spend more time putting more pressure on your knees, you’re more likely to get this. Though the pain caused by prepatellar bursitis reduces on its own, if it’s severe, you may have to consult a doctor and get it treated immediately. So, if you notice any pain in the knee, it may be due to this.

What Is A Bursa?

Bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion to reduce the friction between the bones and the body tissues. When the bursa is sore due to repetitive motion, it causes bursitis.
Applying ice to it at home may help heal the pain in just three to six weeks, but if the pain continues, you may have to go to the hospital before it gets worse.

If there is mild pain, you need to take a good rest and maybe treat it with ice. Bursae are present in the joints, especially the elbows, knees, and hips.

Types Of Prepatellar Bursitis

Types Of Prepatellar Bursitis
Acute and Chronic are two types of prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis. Acute bursitis occurs when there is sudden pain in the knees. It may not be severe, but it will need proper medication to prevent worsening knee infection.

So, if your knee starts to hurt when you walk or rest, you should not ignore it. Chronic prepatellar bursitis occurs when you work long hours kneeling, pressurizing your knee. It could lead to severe issues which may need surgery. So, any prolonged pain in your knee should not be ignored.

Top Prepatellar Bursitis Cause And Symptoms

So, what are the top prepatellar bursitis symptoms? Studies suggest[2] that early diagnosis could help treat the condition better.

In fact, some research studies[3] suggest that the condition has different causative agents, and it can lead to different therapy and clinical outcome.

Here are some of the causes of prepatellar bursitis.

1. Kneeling For Long Hours Or Frequently

As mentioned earlier, long hours of kneeling or working in a job that requires frequent kneeling are the leading causes of prepatellar bursitis. You need to check your health frequently, as sometimes you may not feel the pain, but you may have chronic bursitis if left untreated.

2. Arthritis

Though arthritis is the inflammation of joints, your knee pain can worsen and cause bursitis. So, if you have arthritis and your knee pain worsens, it may be due to bursitis.

3. Infections

Infections in your knees may cause swelling in your bursas, leading to prepatellar bursitis. Insect bites might also cause infections where the bacteria spreads and causes further infections. Ensure you have them treated right away.

4. Accidents

Accidents that hit directly to the knee may cause inflammation to the bursas and could lead to the knee. You don’t want burning pain in knee, one of the common prepatellar bursitis symptoms.

Prepatellar Bursitis Symptoms

Prepatellar Bursitis Symptoms
Here are some of the prepatellar bursitis symptoms that you must not ignore:

1. Pain

There will be severe pain in your knee when you have prepatellar bursitis. This pain can be more especially when you kneel. There may be times when the pain is not evident, but it becomes more when you rest.

2. Swelling

There will be swelling in your knees which is one of the main symptoms of bursitis. If you feel the swelling is not reduced, you need to consult a doctor immediately.

3. Unable To Walk

You will also get frequent pains while walking or when climbing stairs, hindering you from walking long distances without pain.

Prepatellar Bursitis Treatment

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which this can be treated.

1. A Good Rest For Your Knee

When you’re in a high-pressure job that demands working on your knees for long hours, your knees need rest. So, ensure you get to rest well after a busy day so you don’t have to deal with severe pain in the future.

2. Ice To Reduce The Pain

Applying ice to the area helps alleviate the pain. It is another way to treat the burning pain in your knee, which is easy and can be done at home.

3. Antibiotics

Taking antibiotics is another way to treat prepatellar bursitis when it’s severe. However, you may have to consult a doctor before taking them. Doctors have also looked at endoscopic treatment[4] for the condition and proposed an out-patient arthroscopic method under local anesthesia.

The aim was both cost savings and to treat chronic prepatellar bursitis easily. Doctors found that the way of managing the condition was often better over the longer term.

What Are The Risk Factors For Prepatellar Bursitis?

Prepatellar Bursitis Cause
Now, not everyone is at the same risk for developing this condition. So, are you at a high risk of getting prepatellar bursitis? Here is what you need to know.

  • If you suffer from obesity and have osteoarthritis, you have a higher risk of getting this common condition. Though it is treatable, always ensure you maintain a healthy body weight and try to prevent damage to your joints as much as possible.
  • As mentioned earlier, people who work in jobs where the knee gets a lot of pressure are at risk of developing this condition. Though this can happen anymore, development is higher among these people.
  • When your knee gets hit hard, it may help cause your bursa to swell. It’s a more common prepatellar bursitis cause. And it can happen to people who play sports such as basketball, football, and others. So, always protect your knees by wearing a knee pad before getting on the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s clear some of the common doubts that you have about this. Here are five frequently asked questions about this condition.

If you hear a crackling sound when you walk or move around, it may be due to prepatellar bursitis. Try treating it at home if the pain is mild by applying ice. But, if it still doesn't go, consult a doctor immediately.

Prepatellar bursitis can go away if the pain is mild. It may take around a couple of weeks if you rest well and apply ice to the pain area. But if the pain continues, talk to your doctor, but it's a treatable condition.

This condition is not severe, but if your kneecap is infected, the bacteria may spread to other areas that can be serious. So, if you find severe pain while resting or in motion, do not delay going to the doctor.

It's not okay to walk when you have this condition. Rest well till the pain is reduced, and maybe walk for short distances without putting much pressure on your knee. But do not go running or riding as it can cause long-term damage to your body.

You can treat this condition at home with an ice pack if there is no infection. But if your knees are swollen due to infection, you need to take antibiotics and consult a doctor.


On the whole, prepatellar bursitis is a common condition that is treatable and occurs in people whose work involves putting pressure on the knees. Sometimes, accidents or hard blows to the knee can cause this, which can be severe if it is infected.

So, taking good care of your body and resting after work will ensure your knees don’t get strained much. It’s essential to maintain a healthy weight, and it’s also essential to wear knee pads to protect your knees. Take breaks frequently and rest for a while if you see any symptoms of prepatellar bursitis, so the pain is mild and doesn’t get severe.

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