By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Housemaid’s knee is also known as prepatellar bursitis, causes swelling and pain at the front of the knee. It is a swelling in the prepatellar bursa. The prepatellar bursa is a small fluid-filled sac which sits under the skin, on the front of the knee above the patella (kneecap) providing cushioning and protection. Occasionally it can become inflamed, a swollen and painful prepatellar bursa is bursitis, and known as Housemaid’s knee.
The most common causes include:
- A fall onto the front of the knee
- Repetitive kneeling which causes minor injury which occurs when kneeling on the knee for long periods. This kneeling is typical for housemaid’s knee. However, other workers such as carpenters, plumbers and rugby players are also at risk.
- Another inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
The most common symptoms are:
- Pain and swelling at the front of the knee.
- Stiffness and tightness
- If your injury becomes chronic then there may be a tender lump over the patella.
We will recommend conservative treatment:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- If the swelling persists then we will drain the fluid out of the bursa with a needle, known as aspiration.
- Steroid Injection into the bursa can help to reduce swelling and pain.
If you have already had housemaid’s knee, it is advisable to avoid kneeling on hard surfaces by using gel pads to prevent a recurrence.
Surgical treatment is determined in the treatment plan if the injury is recurring and/or infection is severe.
If you are suffering from housemaid’s knee, you should see a doctor for a correct diagnosis and the right set of treatment options.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.