Sports that involve direct blows or falls on the knee put athletes at risk for prepatellar bursitis. This is also true for persons who constantly kneel at their work, such as plumbers, carpet layers or gardeners.
Constant or sudden friction of the kneecap can irritate the bursa, a small lubricating sac in the patella. Symptoms of prepatellar bursitis include pain with activity and the rapid swelling of the front of the kneecap that is tender and warm to the touch.
To rule out the possibility of a fracture, your doctor may recommend taking an X-ray first. If the bursa is not infected, nonsurgical treatments usually work well in treating the pain and symptoms.
The nonsurgical approach to prepatellar bursitis involves the RICE method – Rest, Ice, Elevation and Medication. If there is too much swelling, your doctor may need to drain the bursa with a needle.
Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery if the swelling continues after these methods. Surgery is an outpatient procedure that involves the removal of the bursa, and normal activities can be resumed within a few weeks.
Completely preventing prepatellar bursitis completely may be difficult if your daily activities requires excessive kneeling or a greater vulnerability to damage. However, you can help prevent this condition by wearing kneepads, resting your knees regularly and applying ice and elevation to your knees after exercising.