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Prepatellar Bursitis (Carpenter’s Knee)

Imagine kneeling down and fixing a door hinge and you wake up next morning with a painful, swollen knee that is difficult to move. You don’t recall any pain the previous day, you were just kneeling for a while to fix that door. This may have been caused by prepatellar bursitis, also known as Carpenter’s Knee.

A bursa is a fluid filled sac in between bones and soft tissues, usually to help reduce friction in bony prominences and help guide movements smoother. Prepatellar bursitis is the inflammation of bursa in front of the knee cap, resulting in swelling and pain in the knee as well as loss of range in motion. This can be caused by falls or direct trauma to the knee, but also repetitive or prolonged pressure on the kneecap in occupations such as miners, gardeners, and carpenters. It occurs more often to men more than women, especially middle-aged men ranging from 40-60 years old. Those with other inflammatory conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis are also more susceptible to this condition. It can also occur due to bacterial infections and more frequently in children with scrapes and cuts on their knees.

Treatment of prepatellar bursitis involves resting the knee, particularly resting the knee from kneeling, or from pressure such as high impact sports. Ice and elevation of the knee may also be used to reduce the inflammation and swelling in the bursa, along with taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil. For more serious bursitis that do not resolve within 2-3 weeks, a doctor may also perform a bursal aspiration to remove fluid buildup at the bursa, or antibiotics may be taken for bacterial bursitis.

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