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What You Need to Know About Knee Bursitis

Knee bursitis is a relatively common problem that causes your knees to swell. This can cause a lot of pain, which may make it painful and difficult to move around. Sometimes called “roofer’s knee” or “carpet layer’s knee” because it’s so prevalent among these occupations, it’s true that anyone can experience it.

The tenderness and swelling associated with knee pain are certainly uncomfortable, but the good news is that it isn’t a permanent condition. The providers at Beeson Wellness Center explain more about what causes bursitis and how you can treat it.

What causes bursitis

The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions the tip of your knee. You actually have three bursae on each knee, each or all of which can become inflamed or even infected. Any of the three bursae can become inflamed or infected but it’s most common over the kneecap.

Bursitis is the result of inflammation of the bursae. It can be caused by overuse, a direct blow to the knee, complications of arthritis, or obesity. It’s most likely to result in pain, swelling, and tenderness.

How to treat bursitis

Bursitis can be fairly simple to treat with home remedies in many cases. Recommendations for how to treat bursitis at home include the following:


Staying off your feet for a while can relieve the pressure on your knee. Try putting your feet up for a few days, avoiding any jarring motions that might aggravate your bursitis. You can still exercise, but be sure to choose low-impact motions, like swimming or biking.


Putting ice packs on your knee can also reduce some of the pain and swelling. Apply the ice pack (or even a package of frozen vegetables) for 15-20 minutes, three to four times a day.


Put your knee up, especially when you sleep. Elevating your knee can help some of the swelling to drain from your knee and provide some relief from the pressure.

Take anti-inflammatory medications

You can take over-the-counter medications to reduce the pain and swelling. Drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and are likely to be the most effective.

When you need more help

When the simple, home remedies don’t provide enough relief, it’s time to make an appointment for a visit. We can offer additional treatments to help. 

Some of the therapies we offer include the following:


We may aspirate, or drain, the fluid from the sac on top of your knee. You may need to wrap your knee for a couple of days. By removing the fluid that’s causing the swelling, you should find that your knee may return to normal within a few days.

Steroid injection

We may also choose to inject a steroid into the bursae to reduce the swelling. This is a more powerful form of pain relief than over-the-counter pain relievers.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy works for a variety of conditions, including bursitis. You’ll learn stretches and exercises to strengthen your knee, which can prevent bursitis from recurring. 

In addition to the above, it’s also recommended to wear knee protection if you participate in sports or your work requires you to kneel a lot. You may want to lose weight if you’re overweight, as this will put less pressure on your knees.

If you think you have knee bursitis, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment to come see us. Call our Portland office, or request an appointment online.

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