Housemaids knee. What an aggravating and painful condition. The knee is red. It is swollen. It hurts at the top of the knee. It hurts to move the knee. Kneeling and scrubbing the floor is a thing that can be done no more! But the condition can correct itself when the activity (excessive kneeling on hard surfaces) is stopped, or when the victim sits for a while. If the conditions persist, a visit to the doctor is called for. There may be infection or damage to the knee.
Housemaids Knee is actually a subset of the Bursitis category of joint problems.There are hundreds of bursa throughout the body, wherever two surfaces move in opposite directions against each other. The Bursa is a thin sac, like a bag with very little water in it. The bursa is there to make the joints and the things that move against it work smoothly without catching or grinding together.
The clinical term for problems with the knee Bursa is Prepatellar Bursitis. The Bursa helps the skin, muscle, ligaments and tendons to slide over the patella without grinding or catching when the knee is bent or moved.
If the Bursa is intact, but becomes inflamed or otherwise irritated, Prepatellar Bursitis is the result. The bursa can become overloaded with fluid, which swells the knee and is often confused with "Water on the Knee". But true "Water on the knee" occurs when fluid accumulates in the knee joint, and not the Bursa.
In the case of traumatic injury, where the Bursa is actually ruptured or broken, and infection sets in, the condition is called Infected Bursitis.
Repeated insult to the knee from kneeling on hard surfaces, then bumping around on the knees as we move around are common causes of Prepatellar Bursitis. The newer cleaning tools, especially the long handled devices, have greatly reduced the incidences of "Housewife's Knee", but not eliminated the condition completely since many people still install flooring and do construction activity that involves excessive weight on their knees.
The treatments for Housemaids Knee begin with stopping the activity that is causing the condition. Then, if suffering persists, the excess fluid can be drained in an office procedure with a long needle. If the condition persists, the bursa may be removed in an operating room procedure on an outpatient basis. The fluid is examined for infection. If infection is present, antibiotics are prescribed.