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Housemaids Knee or Prepatellar Bursitis Print E-mail

What is Housemaids Knee or Prepatellar Bursitis?

prepatellar bursitisA bursa is a small fluid filled sac designed to help soft tissue (skin, tendons,muscle and ligaments) slide easily over the underlying bone. They arise at various joints throughout the body, such as the shoulder, elbow and knee.

Prepatellar bursitis is the inflammation of the pre-patellar bursa, which lies in front of the patella or kneecap. Under normal conditions its function is to reduce the friction between the patellar tendon and overlying skin when bending the knee.

Prepatellar bursitis is the inflammation of this bursa which can either be an acute (sudden onset) injury or chronic (longer term) injury.

Symptoms of Prepatellar Bursitis

  • Pain and tenderness on the kneecap and just below it.
  • Kneecap may be swollen and warm to the touch.
  • Difficulty kneeling.
  • An abscess or fluid filled lump may be visible over the patella.
  • For chronic Prepatellar bursitis there may be a tender lump floating underneath the skin on the kneecap.1

Causes of Prepatellar Bursitis

Acute prepatellar bursitis can be caused by a direct blow or fall on the knee. This ruptures blood vessels which bleed into the bursa causing swelling and triggering an inflammation reaction in the walls of the bursa. Subsequently, the walls may then thicken, causing tenderness that may remain even after the swelling has reduced. Acute bursitis can also be triggered by an infection as a result of a surface injury, such as a skin wound over the kneecap. In this case, bacteria may spread into the fluid within the pre-patellar bursa causing infection.

Chronic bursitis is a longer term problem which may recur over a period of time. Repeated damage to the knee for example from kneeling or work that involves alot of pressure on the kneecap thickens the walls of the bursa causing irritation.

Prevention / Treatment of Prepatellar Bursitis

The following guidelines are for information purposes only. Seeking professional advice before beginning rehabilitation is recommended. 

The prevention of housemaid’s knee should focus on the avoidance of kneeling that may lead to friction and mechanical trauma on the knees. If kneeling is required then kneepads and/ or sitting kneeling support should be used.

Massage Therapy

The therapists at Advanced Alternatives Massage Therapy have specialized training in sports massage and Lymph edema therapy which may help to reduce the inflammation around the knee. Also, the application of the RICE method (rest, ice, compression & elevation) has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and speeding recovery.



  1. http://www.herbsmd.com/cure99/Housemaids-Knee.html

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