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Housemaid’s knee is a condition that can occur from frequent kneeling or squatting. It can be seen in women who are employed as maids, hence the name, but it may surprise you who endures this condition most commonly.
If you are experiencing pain in your knees, you may have a housemaid’s knee.
In this blog post, we will discuss what housemaid knee is, what causes this condition, and how you can treat it!
The Knee Joint
Before digging into housemaid’s knee, let’s take a look at the gross anatomy of the knee. The knee joint is a synovial hinge joint between the femur and tibia. The patella sits in front of the knee and articulates with the femur.
Some ligaments stabilize the knee joint. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) provide stability to the knee from the sides. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) cross in the center of the knee joint and prevent anterior-posterior translation.
There is a small meniscus between the femur and tibia that acts as a shock absorber. The medial meniscus is C-shaped and the lateral meniscus is O-shaped.
The knee joint is surrounded by a capsule that has a thin lining of synovium. The synovium produces synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. Allowing all soft tissues or bony tissues to move effectively.
There are also numerous bursa in the knee joint. A bursa is a small sac of fluid that provides a cushion between bones and tendons. They help to reduce friction in the joint.
Bursa around the patellar are the suprapatellar, prepatellar, and infrapatellar bursae.
The suprapatellar bursa is between the femur and quadriceps tendon. The prepatellar bursa is between the skin and the patella. The infrapatellar bursa is between the patella and the tibia.
Now that we have reviewed the anatomy of the knee, let’s discuss what is housemaids knee.
Housemaid’s knee or prepatellar bursitis is a condition that is caused by repetitive kneeling on hard surfaces for long periods. This repetitive action causes swelling of the bursa that leads to inflammation of the bursa displayed in the front of the kneecap.
Although the name suggests it occurs most often in women, it is seen more often in men ages 40-60 with very active work.
Common causes of inflammation of the prepatellar bursa are seen in occupations that require a lot of kneeling such as carpet layers, plumbers, and gardeners who put too much pressure on the front of the back of the knee due to the positions they are routinely in.
Knee bursitis like housemaid’s knee can also occur from a single traumatic event such as a fall or a direct blow in contact sports to the front of your kneecap.
Individuals with an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis or gout are also at a higher risk for developing housemaids’ knees due to their bodies’ decreased ability to fight off illnesses because their immune system is weaker than a typically functioning individual.
This condition can also occur due to a bacterial infection. If you develop sudden pain and swelling in your knee, this could be a sign of an infection and you should seek medical attention immediately.
The last common cause of this condition is septic bursitis. Septic bursitis is an infection of the bursa that is most often caused by bacteria entering the body through a cut or scrape.
If you think you may have septic bursitis, it is important to seek medical attention right away as this can be a very serious condition.
Symptoms of Housemaids’ Knee
The most common symptoms of housemaids knee are:
– Pain and tenderness around the front of your kneecap
– Swelling and warmth around the front of your kneecap that looks like it is caused by excess fluid
– Redness or bruising around the front of your kneecap
You may notice that your symptoms are worse when you bend your knee or after long periods of kneeling or squatting. Your symptoms may also be worse at the end of the day after work or activity.
Diagnosing Issues with the Prepatellar Bursa Sac
If you think you may have housemaid’s knee, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They will also perform a physical examination of your knee joint. They may order imaging tests such as an MRI or X-ray to rule out other causes of your knee pain such as a fracture or arthritis.
Your doctor may also order a fluid aspirate. This is a test where they will remove a small amount of fluid from the bursa sac with a needle and send it to the lab for analysis.
They may also order blood tests to check for infection or inflammation.
All of these tests are to ensure your doctor makes the correct diagnosis.
After the source of the discomfort is found, it is much easier to get the correct treatment.
Treatment Options for Housemaid’s Knee
The good news is that most cases of housemaids knee can be treated at home with conservative methods such as:
– Resting your knee and avoiding activities that make your symptoms worse
– Getting a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation
– Applying ice packs to the affected area for 20 minutes several times a day
– Wearing a knee pad or wrap to protect your knee from further irritation
– Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help with pain and swelling
If your symptoms are severe or do not improve with home treatment, you may need physical therapy. A physical therapist can help to improve range of motion and strength. They may also teach you exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles around your knee joint.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the bursa sac. This is typically only done if other treatments have not helped or if there is an infection present. Septic prepatellar bursitis is not common and it is only necessary in rare cases to remove the entire bursa via surgery.
Recovery from Housemaids Knee
Recovery from housemaid’s knee generally takes around six weeks for a full recovery from symptoms. This can vary depending on what treatment option you and your doctor decide upon.
Make the Right Choice For You
Housemaid’s knee is a condition that can be treated at home in most cases. However, if your symptoms are severe or do not improve with home treatment, you may need physical therapy or surgery.
If you have housemaid’s knee, make sure to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. With the proper care, you will be on your way to recovery in no time.
About the Author
Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.