Prepatellar (Kneecap) Bursitis

Prepatellar (Kneecap) Bursitis


Irritation and inflammation of the prepatellar bursa located just in front of the kneecap. Prepatellar bursitis commonly occurs in occupations which require frequent kneeling.


In its normal state, the bursa allows the kneecap to move smoothly under the skin. If the bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, it fills with fluid and causes swelling at the top of the knee. Causes include:

  • Trauma to the knee, either in a single injury or gradually over time
  • Infection
  • Gout or inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pain with activity, especially with kneeling
  • Swelling on the front of kneecap, which may be rapid
  • Tenderness/warm to the touch
  • Limited or painful motion of the knee

Rest, ice, elevation and use of anti-inflammatory medication will relieve symptoms. Aggravating activity should be discontinued until the bursitis resolves. If swelling is significant, the bursa may be drained (aspirated) with a needle. Nonsurgical treatment is usually effective as long as the bursa is not infected.