Doctors often can make a diagnosis of knee bursitis during a physical exam. Your doctor will inspect your knee by:
- Comparing the condition of both knees, particularly if only one is painful
- Gently pressing on different areas of your knee to detect warmth, swelling and the source of pain
- Carefully moving your legs and knees into different positions to determine the range of motion in your knee joint and identify movement associated with pain
To help rule out injuries that may cause signs and symptoms similar to those of bursitis, your doctor may order one or more of the following imaging tests:
- X-ray. While they can't visualize bursae, X-rays may be useful in revealing a bone fracture, tumor or arthritis.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs use radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of structures within your body. This technology is particularly good at visualizing soft tissues, such as bursae.
- Ultrasound. Using sound waves to produce images in real time, ultrasound can help your doctor better visualize swelling in the affected bursa.
If your doctor suspects that you have an infection or gout in the bursa, he or she may obtain a sample of the bursa fluid for testing by inserting a needle into the affected area and draining some of the fluid.
April 24, 2014
- Chatra PS. Bursae around the knee joints. Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging. 2012;22:27.
- Anderson BC. Knee bursitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Questions and answers about bursitis and tendinitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bursitis/. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00338. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 6, 2014.
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