Housemaid’s knee or Prepatellar Bursitis

What is Bursitis?

A bursa is a small sac which is filled with fluid, usually found in joints and many places where ligaments and tendons pass over the bones. Its role is to help reduce pressure and friction and allow maximum range of motion over the joint.

A bursitis means inflammation of the bursa. 

There are 4 bursae located around the knee joint. All four are prone to inflammation or bursitis and housemaid’s knee usually occurs in people who are regularly in a prolonged kneeling position.

What causes it?

  • Sudden injury, such as fall or direct blow
  • Recurrent minor injury
  • Infection
  • Inflammatory disease like Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pain at the front of the knee
  • Swelling and increased temperature of the skin
  • Redness
  • Difficulty doing activities that involve bending the knee or walking


It is usually hard to diagnose, but questioning regarding  your occupation or daily activities to look for signs of prolonged kneeling or if there was a recent fall. A physical examination will also be conducted by your physiotherapist to confirm the diagnosis.

If there is any concern for infection a doctor can draw the fluid out from the bursa to send for further testing followed by a course of antibiotics.

It is more common and males than females, and can be found commonly in children due to infection.

Physiotherapy treatment:

  • Ice
  • Ultrasound to reduce inflammation
  • Kinesio taping to reduce swelling
  • Exercises to help reduce the pressure on the knee
  • Advice on changing the ergonomics of your work
  • Prescription of a walking stick to reduce the pressure on the knee
  • Advice regarding the use of anti-inflammatory drugs where necessary.


Most cases are not serious and will resolve without medication or surgery. The outcome is normally good, it may take a few weeks to clear up with conservative treatment in physiotherapy.


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Karishma Jhaveri

Karishma Jhaveri

Physiotherapist at Physio Savvy
Karishma completed her Bachelors in Physiotherapy from Manipal, India and has also completed Mulligan therapy certificaion. In Manipal Hospital, she worked for 3 years in clinical placement under several areas including diabetic clinic, pediatric wards, burns ICU and cardiac ICU. She then continued working in Mumbai under the President of Indian Association of physiotherapy Dr Ali Irani. Her work also includes health surveys in India for WHO in rural parts near Manipal, and she has taken a special interest in working with children.
Karishma Jhaveri

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Posted in Musculoskeletal Disorders.