I began having the symptoms of bursitis in my right knee when I was in my early forties.
How to Know If You Have Bursitis of the Knee
Bursitis is a painful condition that affects a “bursa,” which are small pouches filled with lubricating fluid located throughout the joints. They are nearer the surface than most parts of your joint that can give you pain, and in some cases you can pinpoint by touch exactly where the affected bursa is situated. The bursae in your joints decrease friction between bones, muscles, and tendons.
We have bursae in almost all of our major joints, and they play a critical role in keeping connective tissue and bones working properly. Occasionally, the bursae in a joint can become inflamed, causing quite a bit of pain when the joint is moved a certain way. This condition is called bursitis, and it is most common in hip and knee joints.
My Bursitis Experience
I began having the symptoms of bursitis in my right knee when I was in my early forties. It started as a very minor pain on the inside of my right knee that came and went—I really didn't notice it much at all. Over time, though, it got worse. Simple movements, like pushing something to the side with my foot, made my knee pain flare up. After a few weeks, it hurt almost all the time, and the pain was radiating down to my foot and up into my hip. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what!
The Onset of Knee Bursitis
I started taking Tylenol throughout the day, and I also began avoiding my workouts, which included tennis and basketball pick-up games. When things got bad enough, I finally went to see my doctor. She diagnosed bursitis and sent me home with orders to rest and to look into getting a knee brace.
Braces for Bursitis of the Knee
Fortunately, there are some very good products to help you get over bursitis. It does take awhile, like all joint issues do—but given time and good care, the pain of bursitis can be fully defeated. Today, I am pain-free, and I have stayed free of bursitis since that nasty episode. I used this high-quality bursitis knee brace, which can be found online and is easy to use. It’s more comfortable than the other braces I tried, and it really made a difference for me. It's specifically designed to soothe and support your knee as it heals from the damage of a condition like bursitis.
Pain on the Inside (Medial) Part of My Knee
My bursitis symptoms were consistent and very distinct. The pain was located in my right knee on the inside part of the joint, also called the “medial” area. I later learned that this is where the bursa, the lubricating sac of fluid that had become inflamed, was located. That made sense to me, because the pain felt very localized and almost “touchable”—not deep inside the workings of the knee but more on the surface of the joint, almost just under the skin. It hurt somewhat throughout the day, but it hurt intensely when I did a few particular moves.
The worst one was when I tried to move something to the side with my right foot—for example, when I had my arms full of groceries or I was carrying one of my kids and I tried to close the car door with my foot. The action of pushing to the left with my right foot made my knee erupt in sharp, aching pain that sometimes traveled all the way to my foot. It too a while to realize that this was not right, and that something was really wrong in my knee. I had to do something.
Did Plantar Fasciitis Contribute to My Knee Bursitis?
It’s worth mentioning that my knee bursitis really kicked in after I struggled through a nasty bout of plantar fasciitis, which affects the connective tissue that runs under your heel. I got over my plantar fasciitis with the help of these Nike Air Max running shoes, which have a unique heel unit that cushions your heels and gives the inflamed tissue a chance to recover and heal. My knee bursitis started a few months after the pain in my feet had faded. The doctor said the two conditions are not typically related, but I had my doubts. In both cases, I had been running and pushing myself as part of an attempt to lose weight and get in shape. Whether or not they were related, the pain in first my heels and then my knee did give me some food for thought.
Bursitis and Age
The truth was, I was getting a little older, and I needed to re-evaluate the way I worked out. I was in great shape for man over forty thanks to a consistent running and lifting regimen, but that very same routine that had helped me burn fat and keep muscle had also contributed to nagging, painful conditions in my feet and knees. As time has passed, I’ve learned how to push myself up to the point of causing pain, but not past it. For example, instead of running hard, I now try to run longer distances at a slower pace.
I’m not alone in facing this reality of getting older -- age and bursitis are related. While the most common location for inflammation of the bursa is in the hip joint, knee bursitis is also common, especially among somewhat older people who are physically active and on their feet a lot.
Peyton Manning's Infected Bursa
Since the bursae are quite close to the skin, it’s possible for them to become infected. While not common, it does happen and is an extension of the inflammation process. Infected bursae are a more serious condition than simple inflammation of the knee or other affected joints. One famous sufferer of this condition is Peyton Manning, who worked through a painful episode of an infected bursa in his knee. Ultimately Manning underwent surgery to have the infected bursa removed. It’s worth noting that Manning has had more than his share of injuries in his sparkling career, and that this condition is not common!
Invasive Treatments for Bursitis
The most common invasive treatment for bursitis is a steroid injection into the gel-filled bursa sac. For serious bursitis that isn’t helped by rest, physical therapy, or braces, this may be the best option. When you get a steroid shot for bursitis, the doctor first numbs the area with a topical anesthetic gel. This lessens the pain of the needle, which is inserted with a mix of fluid and steroid solution. Patients are not anesthetized for this procedure, and you will be able to leave the doctor’s office shortly after getting the steroid shot.
Side Effects of Invasive Bursitis Treatment
Side effects of steroid shots are uncommon, and can include:
- Flushed face
- Slight fever
- Water retention
- Increased appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Abdominal cramping or bloating
While it’s true that a steroid shot can help your bursitis pain, it does seem to make sense to try non-invasive methods like a high-quality knee brace before you go the more extreme route of going under the needle for a steroid injection.
- Bursa Injection | Cleveland Clinic
Learn more about a bursa injection at Cleveland Clinic. Learn about the bursa injection procedure, level of effectiveness, risks and more. Learn more today.
- Chatra, P: “Bursae around the knee joints.” Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging. 2012 Jan-Mar; 22(1): 27–30.
- Cicetti, Fred: “Is Bursitis Age-Related?” Live Science, September 13, 2010.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Judy wilson on December 03, 2019:
I’m in extreme pain which is mostly on top of my knee cap,
Do not want an injection, this was terrible and I fainted the last time I had this on my other knee,
But the pain is so intense that it upsets my stomach and I have. Difficult sleeping. I am older and in good shape and this has come on much too quickly, please advise,
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 17, 2017:
I've had bursitis in my shoulders to the point that I couldn't lift my arms above a certain point without excruciating pain. It was due to computer work. The orthopedist gave me steroid shots with a very long needle and moved it around. Ouch.
Mary Wickison from Brazil on February 11, 2017:
Although I have never experienced this, I have family members who have. It can alter everything in someone's life as the pain keeps them from being active. This has negative effects on their well-being and a snowball effect takes over.
A knee brace helped for my cousin.
Excellent hub. I was glad you showed the side effects of the invasive treatment.