> Housemaid's Knee
What is Housemaid's Knee?
Housemaid's knee is the common name given to prepatellar
bursitis, an inflammation that occurs at the front of
the knee, on the kneecap (patella). The term originally
referred to maids who developed the injury from spending
a lot of time on their knees cleaning floors. Bursitis
is an inflammation of the bursae, which are sacks of
fluid that help reduce the friction between skin, muscles,
tendons, and bone. When the bursa in front of the kneecap
becomes irritated, it can swell and become painful.
Repeated pressure on the front of
the knee, which can cause irritation and inflammation
of the bursa, is the most common cause of housemaid's
knee. This can stem from everyday activities like scrubbing
floors, laying carpet, or gardening. The bursa can also
become inflamed from a direct blow to the kneecap, such
as a fall, which can cause bleeding inside the bursa
and lead to swelling.
If the bursa has become infected and
the infection has not been treated quickly, an abscess,
or concentration of pus, may form on the front of the
knee. This should be drained with a needle (aspiration)
and treated with antibiotics, either orally or intravenously.
If the swelling persists, which is a sign that the bursa
has thickened, the bursa may have to be removed surgically.
In some cases, a normal bursa will grow back after surgery.
There are usually three parts to an
orthopedic evaluation: medical history, physical examination,
and tests your physician may order.
will likely ask you to describe your symptoms in detail
- the location, duration, and severity of your pain
- in order to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Physicians
also typically ask about other conditions, such as diabetes
and allergies, and medications currently being taken.
It is important to describe your symptoms accurately.
For example, the degree of pain and when swelling occurs
can provide your physician with important clues about
the nature of your injury. You also should describe
what kind of activities you engage in that could aggravate
| PHYSICAL EXAMINATION
Since the symptoms of housemaid's
knee include visible swelling over the kneecap, your
physician usually will be able to make an accurate diagnosis
by doing a visual inspection and manipulating the area
If a fall or direct blow is the source of the pain on
your kneecap, your physician may suggest an X-ray to
rule out the possibility of any bone damage. This normally
is done in the doctor's office. If an infection is suspected,
the bursa will be drained and the fluid will either
be analyzed in-house or sent to a hospital laboratory
for analysis. Some early results may be available in
one to two hours, and final results usually are available
in three to five days.